I am a writer.
This is the first time that I have called myself that in preference to “teacher.” It acknowledges a change in my life as I take a leap and leave my job of 24 years at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts to devote myself to writing full time. (I will still teach a class each term in the Harvard Museum Studies program, but more about that in another entry.)
Two projects will be the focus of this blog for the next year or so: a non-fiction history of museums, and a novel about an aristocratic Englishwoman who is reduced to piracy at the turn of the nineteenth century. These are obviously very different subjects and approaches, but they have requirements in common, primarily a need for good research. My plan is to talk about sources, how to find good ones, how to read them effectively, and how to incorporate them into both fiction and non-fiction.
For years I have told students that I have a tattoo that says “Writing is a Process,” and I will admit now that while it isn’t actually physically inked on my body, it has been tapped into my brain by thousands of little pinpricks of information that get embedded there in the course of reading, traveling, looking at works of art, listening to music, and writing, writing, writing. Neither research nor writing are easy for me, but they are enormously satisfying, and I hope that in pondering and recording the process, others traveling along the same road will find something worthwhile.
Image: The Robert C. Seamans at Hao atoll in French Polynesia. In my time at SEA, I sailed on this vessel on the American west coast from Alaska to California, around Polynesia and New Zealand, and from Tahiti to Hawaii.