A Boatload of Words

Sometimes you get to leave the island for an adventure, like to the Cape for a dentist appointment. Of course, you can make it more fun by adding stops at the Cape Cod Mall, the Christmas Tree Shop, Marshalls, or any number of chain stores and/or restaurants that aren’t on the Vineyard. Yay!

None of which can be accomplished without the help of the ferry and its tireless workers.

I stayed on the freight deck the other day, exhausted from my trip abroad. Parked in the back, the last car on the boat, I’d watched the workers in action. They have a system, or so ‘d like to believe, of knowing which vehicle to direct into which lane. (The big boat holds 60 cars, 76 with the hydraulic lift deck.) Trucks tend to go in the middle; SUVs front, rear, and center; VWs and Coopers in the narrow lanes on the sides where it’s tough to open the doors without banging them against the concrete walls. Loading the boat is a ballet of sorts, with each vehicle having its place, creating the right balance for a smooth voyage.

As I watched that day, the process reminded me of writing a novel. There are a whole lot of words of different sizes and colors, different horsepowers (or is it horses power?), different things the author wants to convey. The fact that I drive a VW might mean I prefer short, simple words (I do). Perhaps the BMW driver in the next lane uses more impressive words like prepandial or ubiety. (I have no idea what they mean.)

IMG_3783When all the vehicles were in their proper places, we were underway. I sat in my car, pondering the similarities between novelists and ferry workers, when I glanced to my left and saw this: One of the workers parked himself by the window, picked up a magazine, and took a well-deserved break. The sun was shining, the surf was gentle, and he, indeed, had the best seat in the house.

I knew the feeling. It’s how a novelist feels when he or she finishes another scene or a chapter, having choreographed a (hopefully) perfect dance of words.

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One thought on “A Boatload of Words

  1. My choreography of words is too often more of a square dance. Just when I think I’ve got things where they should be, I realize there’s a whole ‘nother set of dosi do-ing that needs to be done.

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