Lessons in Writing From a Boat Named GERTI


My husband grew up on the lake. Every time we would pass a truck with a boat hitched to it, he would salivate. He definitely has lake water in his blood. Last year, we had a little extra money and became the owners of a 1988 Monte Carlo II, complete with a dated brown stripe around the side and an interior that still makes me chuckle.

No, she wasn’t the swankiest thing sitting next to our driveway, but it was a boat — a boat with a really good motor, despite the fact that she looks like she might decide to sink at any moment.

Her name is GERTI. We named her after the old, rickety airplane from our favorite BBC radio show “Cabin Pressure”. The show centers around a tiny airline named MJN Air that barely keeps things running. Their plane (call sign: Golf, Echo, Romeo, Tango, India) is a source of constant problems. To quote one of the characters: “It’s only gaffer tape and hope holding her together.” Yet, the airplane never failed to get them where they needed to go.

So GERTI just seemed a fitting name for our old girl.

But, back to the title of my blog post…because I know you want to know how this relates to writing, don’t you? Well, we took GERTI out on the lake today for the first time this season. Well, the second, actually. Last week, we took her to the ramp, lowered her down…and she wouldn’t start. We took her in and got some electrical issues taken care of, and we were ready to go. She started just fine. Until we got in the water. Then, she died.

I was ready to pack it in after a few futile moments. But my husband wouldn’t give up. He kept working at her. We’d putter around for a little bit, and then she’d die again. I got nervous, imagining the sight of us paddling back. But still, my husband didn’t give up. He had faith that she just needed to get herself running again. She’d been in storage for months, but once she got going again, all would be fine.

And…it was.

Soon, we were zooming up and down that lake, the wind in our hair and our wake just as white and capping as the next boat. And you know what, I really love being on the lake. And I really love GERTI. She may not be big and shiny and new, compared to so many other boats we passed. But as we zoomed along, with my kids grinning like banshees and having a blast, it really didn’t matter. We were all out on the lake…big boats, little boats, old boats, new boats…and we were all having a fantastic time.

And that, to me, is like writing.

So often, I get distracted by the shiny books around me and the successful authors plastered all over Goodreads and Amazon. Sometimes I feel like I’m sputtering along, getting nowhere. I think maybe I should just pack it all in and paddle to shore. But I’m learning to be patient, just like my husband was with our boat. And when I just quit looking around me and focus on the pure joy that I get out of writing, everything else fades away. I’m zooming along, free and happy…and having the time of my life.

So whether you feel like a streamlined speedboat or a GERTI in this world of writing, it doesn’t matter. Once that creative engine kicks in, we’re all equal on that writing lake. So sit back, grab your hat, and enjoy the ride.