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How Deep Sea Fishing Prepares You for Writing

12 March 2013

From Co.Create:

When publishers started courting swordfish boat captain Linda Greenlaw more than a decade ago, she wasn’t interested in writing a book. As captain of the commercial swordfishing vessel “The Hannah Boden,” Greenlaw was a major character in Sebastian Junger’s 1997 bestseller The Perfect Storm. Female deep sea captains are a rare species, and after publishers kept bombarding her with offers, Greenlaw realized that The Perfect Storm gave her an opportunity she’d be silly to reject.

Her first book—The Hungry Ocean, published in 2000—was a runaway hit. Nine books later, she spends more time writing than she does deep sea fishing (though she still goes out on day-long fishing trips closer to her home on tiny Isle au Haut, off the coast of Maine).

. . . .

I’ve always had to be really disciplined. Ninety percent of my work experience is fishing. I’m used to saying, “Hey, see you later,” and being away from everyone for 30 to 90 days. Since I’m used to being cut off from the world, having to cut myself off for four to five hours [to write], it’s not like jumping on a boat and leaving for 90 days.

. . . .

My experience [as an author] is really unique. I never had any intentions or desires or aspirations to write. Because I was portrayed so generously by Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm, I was invited to write my first book. [Editors told me], “We were intrigued by this female fisherman thing you have going on.” At first I was absolutely not interested, but they were offering me money, and I had to understand the opportunity I had been handed. I was very fortunate to do this, and nobody was more surprised than I was when The Hungry Ocean became a best seller. Nobody was more surprised than I was when it led to book number two, and then to book number three, and now to number nine [Lifesaving Lessons], which will be released next month. It’s been a great opportunity and it has been a great deal of work.

. . . .

I’ve trained my family and friends to not disturb me while I’m writing. I talk to my mother and sister every day on the phone, but they know when I’m working on a book, they can’t call until the afternoon. I don’t enjoy writing at all, I’m really weird about it. I need no one to come knock on the door, because I’ll gladly take any distraction.

If I’m working on a book I treat it like I would my fishing. I need to eat, breathe, and sleep the writing, or it just isn’t good. I need tunnel vision, really single focus. Even when I’m not sitting down and writing, the rest of the day I’m still working on it in my head. When I’m hauling lobster traps in the afternoon, it’s a very mindless activity for me. It’s just physical, and I spend that time thinking about what I’m working on the next morning.

Link to the rest at Co.Create

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3 Comments to “How Deep Sea Fishing Prepares You for Writing”

  1. I’ve enjoyed her books for some time. She strikes me as a natural storyteller.

    I can definitely understand her tunnel-vision approach as I am the same way. Phone off. Separated from the world before the computer even comes on.

  2. How fascinating! Going to check out The Hungry Ocean.

  3. Okay, this is a rare example of the Big Pubs doing it right. They saw a story, went after it and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

    Credit where credit is due.

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