Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Sailor's Waltz - Inspiration Behind the Story

I thought it was about time I wrote another inspiration behind the story. This one, The Sailor's Waltz is in this week's People's Friend and was one I wrote for an illustration that had been sent to me by my editor (interestingly, the original illustration was never used but I have to say I like this one better).

The original picture showed a couple on a boat. What did I know about sailing... absolutely nothing! Now, of course, as writers, we often write about things we don't know. In fact, I find researching new things fascinating but I'm less likely to be enthusiastic about weaving a story around something I've not experienced before. 

I'd established that I didn't know anything about sailing but what did I know about? Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time will know the answer to this... dancing! 

It's six years ago, almost to the day, that my husband and I went to our first ballroom dance class and just over nine since we met at a salsa class. One evening, we were reminiscing about our salsa wedding dance and about our honeymoon cruise where we spent our evenings practicing the few ballroom moves we'd learnt in the few weeks leading up to it (probably pretty badly). 

Our wedding dance wasn't a problem, as we were fairly proficient salsa dancers, but we might have run into a few problems if we'd attempted the waltz. We pick things up fairly quickly but we could only begin to imagine what it might be like for someone with two left feet - how could they possibly learn? Here's our wedding dance for those who haven't already seen it.

The question was, could I mix the two things, sailing and dancing, in the same story? Luckily I could.

In my story, Cally wants to dance a waltz to Moon River, a song her parents danced to at their own wedding. Unfortunately, her fiance, Paul, cannot dance. The only thing he is good at is sailing a boat. When Cally's father (also a member of the sailing club) realises his difficulty, he uses sailing techniques and terms to help Paul learn.

I wonder whether using dancing techniques would help me to learn how to sail? Probably not!


  1. An interesting post, Wendy. I love to explore things that interest me but I have no knowledge of. I understand the 'write what you know' phrase but if we don't explore new things, our writing would be too predicatable. My novel is about crime, bombs, the Mafia - did I know anything about this before I started to write? No! I had to research all the elements in order to give my story credibility. But on reflection, the thing I do know about is people, which I draw upon a lot during my writing.
    I love the way you drew on Paul's knowledge of sailing to teach him how to dance. That's the teacher in you :)Happy Easter!

    1. If I only wrote about what I knew, it wouldn't be much! I'm intrigued by your crime nivel, Nicola - bombs and the Mafia sound exciting.

  2. Love how you twisted a sailing story to get a waltz into it. Clever, Wendy. Perhaps, you could suggest nautical terms to our Fitsteps teacher ... though that would probably confuse me more than normal :)

  3. I know all about husbands with two left feet - I've got one of those! I don't know if he can sail though, he's never tried (neither have I). Perhaps I'll suggest it, we might both find a new hobby.

  4. I like researching stuff too Wendy. It's interesting and often leads to other ideas. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. Being able to balance is helpful to both ... probably - I'm no good at either of them.

  6. How clever to turn one theme into another. I love reading this 'inspiration' pieces.

  7. What a clever idea, Wendy! Great video and dance.