As you’ve undoubtedly heard, I recently spent some time in Hawaii. Whenever the BFF and I go on vacation, we either do crazy things or crazy things happen to us. In fact, vacations usually end up being anything but restful. I might as well call it taking time off for adventure.
So there we were in Kealakekua Bay, kayaking over to the Captain Cook monument. It’s not a short stretch—about 1.5 miles across. And by we I mean me and the two other girls. The BFF in all her Olympic swimmingness decided she was going to swim the mile and a half to the monument.
Despite a few mishaps with the snorkel gear, and realizing that swimming sans fins is probably faster in the end, she made it. But having rented a 3-man kayak, we weren’t entirely certain about how this was going to work out on the way back. I knew how hard the swim had been and doubted the same swim would occur on the return trip.
But who wants to worry about that when there’s all this good stuff to see?
And if you’ll excuse a brief tangent, we did stop by and see the Captain Cook monument. Captain Cook was killed in the bay for essentially lying to the Hawaiians about being a god and using that to his advantage. We realized the monument was there, not so much for Captain Cook, but that he was killed for messing with Hawaiians. So let that be a lesson to you. Don’t mess with the natives… or else! (No seriously, don’t mess with them.)
After an hour or two of snorkeling, lunch on the warm rocks, and realizing the tide was coming in, we decided to finally acknowledge our boat situation. When they say 3-man kayak, they really do mean 3-man kayak. But we loaded up, one girl in the front, one in the back, me in the middle, and the BFF right in front of me since paddling probably wouldn’t work if she sat anywhere else. And since I’d paddled on the way over, I didn’t feel guilty about taking a rest.
It was decentish going out the first few feet, but we quickly realized that with any sudden movement of the ocean, us, paddling, etc. we would easily capsize the boat. Granted that’s not the worse thing in the world to happen, we just weren’t sure any of us could get back in the boat after that happened. Another problem was that the BFF couldn’t bail out and just swim behind or she’d certainly topple the boat.
This is where creative thinking came in. Having seen an outrigger canoe a few times on the island and knowing the basics of how it worked, I immediately stuck out both legs. Yeah, we rode like this:
Fortunately I had water shoes on, so when the paddles struck my feet from the front it was no biggie. And it really did work, we never once toppled over.
What does all this have to do with writing? Since that’s all I really think about lately, I couldn’t help but consider that when constructing our stories there may be times when it seems like the path we’re pursuing seems to be heading toward anything but disaster. Maybe you’re afraid to stray from your outline. Maybe you’re not sure how to connect one plot point to the next. Whatever it is, sometimes it’s okay to be an outrigger and just paddle on through.
But that’s not the end of the story. As you can imagine, despite not toppling over our top speed was looking to be 0.2 miles per hour. Passersby made old quick the joke, “Hey, are you going backwards or what?” Yes, well, it certainly felt like it.
Even though it was slow, we did make progress. And when we got about halfway across the bay, a few other kayakers heading in our direction decided to take pity on us and tow us the rest of the way in. Jae the Outrigger still applied.
We not only proved what our kayak renter told us was impossible (you can’t put more than 3 people on that boat or it’ll topple over), but we persevered until a better solution came along.
I remember posting before about worrying how I was going to get a certain character out of the way so another character could be in danger and have it work naturally. Instead of fretting endlessly over it or bailing out, I sailed on through having faith that the story and characters would tell me where to go if I let them.
We didn’t know if someone would tow us in, we only knew we had to stay afloat and keep paddling and one way or another we’d make it to our destination. Not only did something good come of it, but we had a good hearty laugh and still talk about that little adventure with giggles.
Trust in your little outrigger mind. Dare to be creative. You may encounter things you didn’t expect and have a better story for it.
How have you dared to be creative? What advice would you give to other writers in trusting in the writing journey? Do you find it difficult to trust in your journey, or have great things come from putting faith in that journey?