A little behind-the-scenes about writing Aweigh of Life: I wrote the rough draft of Aweigh of Life while living in Costa Rica back in 2013. Though I had kept very detailed journals during a large part of my sailing years, I wrote most of the first draft from memory, just the “big picture.” And then Life got in the way – I think. I’m not real sure why — but I set it aside and never looked at it again until January of 2019, at which point, a bit appalled that I’d done nothing with it all those years, I spent three months doing the hard work of editing it, rewriting it, rearranging it, adding to it, and subtracting to it. (In spite of all that work, there’s still a few typos — aggh!!). Finally, with a great sense of trepidation, as it was a rather hefty monetary outlay to self-publish, I sent it off to the publisher.
I was living in Arcata, California, at the time. As part of my “publishing package,” I received 40 “free books.” Besides selling on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other on-line sites, I would sit on the street corner on the edges of Arcata’s farmers’ market and hawk my wares, i.e., my book. Whether they bought the book or not (I usually would sell one or two on a Saturday morning), I enjoyed the conversations with passers-by, even more delighted when one or another would return a few weeks later either to give me praise or — the ultimate praise — to purchase another copy as a gift to give to someone. Having finally sold or gifted that first 40 books, I dove in deeper and ordered more.
COVID-19 affected my ability to be a book busker. Public markets and farmers’ markets closed. Summer festivals ceased. The books sat in boxes. My restlessness returned, and I bought an old converted box van, a land boat, so to speak, and after settling in for a bit, I took off vagabonding. I’d find remote and free places to “drop anchor.” I’d hawk my books in camp grounds and at viewpoints when chatting with folks. Folks (particularly older folks) seemed fascinated (yet so natural to me) that this single woman in her seventies would be cruising around in a big ol’ box van on her own. Conversation would lead to my past life of cruising on sailboats, and then, voila, I’d make a book sale.
I met a wonderful lady while camping on the Olympic Peninsula who invited me to park my rig on her property, reminiscent of the generosity of folks met while sailing years before. With winter coming on, it’s a good time to hunker down. But when the weather is good, I’m back sitting on street corners and at markets, meeting wonderful people, talking tales, and selling books.
After two years, still not having quite recouped my investment, I am trying to find balance. In one breath, it’s discouraging realizing that no matter how much heart, soul and skill I’ve put into Aweigh of Life, it is unlikely that I will get rich and famous. With another breath, a more invigorating one, I recognize that indeed it is up to me alone to market my book. Street corners alone won’t suffice, hence the impetus to create this web page and blog regularly, to hopefully create that buzz that puts the book into more hands. Many of the reviews I’ve received suggest this would make a great movie. Of course, I agree, but, hmm, I’m not holding my breath. From the reviews and feedback I’ve gotten, though, the praise has assured me I’ve written a book well worth reading for which I’m humbly pleased and filled with gratitude.
What can I say? I can say it’s much easier — and definitely more enjoyable — to write a book than to try to market it. So I’ll keep it short and sweet, and I will end with my last-ditch pitch: if you haven’t bought Aweigh of Life, please do. If you have bought it, please consider buying copies as a gift for whatever occasion.
Until next time, be kind.