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28 October 2015

Sorry To Be Nosy, But What Makes You Neurotic?


Yikes. I'm having a little bit of a panic attack here today and I need your help. Can you hang on for a second?

{Pause for a deep breath and a morsel of dark chocolate.}

Okay, I'm back. I'm feeling a little bit better, but I could really use your help. You might recall that, in a moment of insanity, I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which means I have to churn out a 50,000 word draft novel during November. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have to confess I had had a couple of glasses of wine when I jumped on this bandwagon.  

Bandwagons always seem wonderful - happy, smiling people holding balloons, clapping their hands and screaming words of encouragement, "Come on, jump on up! We're going to have a fabulous time!"

Of course, once you're on the bandwagon, those same people tear off their masks and it turns out that they weren't happy smiling people after all. They were in fact those frightening aliens from that really bad TV series V. You know, the ones that want to take over our planet and snack on live rats. Yep, they're the same people that created NaNoWriMo. They suck you into thinking this will be the best creative exercise ever and then when you've collapsed in mental exhaustion on your keyboard because you can't think of what to write next and you're 46,433 words short of your 50,000 word goal and it's already November 29th, then they lock their tractor beam onto you, take you up into their evil spacecraft and do unspeakable things to you.

Apparently, folks with writer's block are a delicacy up on the mother ship. Rats are just everyday food, frustrated writers served up with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce are for special occasions. 

I don't want to be a delicacy. So, I need to avoid writer's block at all costs. Here's where you come in. 

My idea for the novel is something loosely like this:

A neurotic woman's husband convinces her that sailing around the world is a good idea. Only one problem. She's afraid of the water.

I can kind of relate to the main character. Okay, I can relate a lot. I have my fair share of neuroses when it comes to this sailing thing. The good news is that I'm not afraid of the water. And, just in case you were wondering, we don't have any plans to circumnavigate. We may do that one day, but then again, we may not.

While I have some ideas about what this neurotic woman is like, I need to flesh out her character and her backstory. As part of this process, I've been puzzling over the questions below and would love to hear your thoughts.


1 - What types of things would make someone neurotic when it comes to setting off on a crazy adventure like sailing around the world? What do you think their biggest fears would be?
2 - How would they overcome their fears?  

3 - What words of advice would you give this woman as she sets off on this adventure?

You don't have to think about it just from the perspective of sailing. There are many types of crazy adventures out there (like selling your house, buying an RV and traveling around North America or quitting your job to write the Great American Novel), so any ideas you have about what it would be like to decide to do something crazy and be a bit fearful about it would be fantastic. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts - leave a comment below or on our Facebook page, or send us an email at thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks to everyone for all their support and encouragement! November should prove to be an interesting month. 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!   
 

17 comments:

  1. I dunno, if she's fearful-type neurotic, then all kinds of things that she can't schedule or control might do it. Does she have little OCD-type rituals that control her days, and how will she do them on a boat? (Like, if she's the kind of perfectionist who lines up the pencils on her desk perfectly and makes sure the pad of paper is perpendicular to the edge, but on the boat things could slide all out of order? ) Or if she has a phobia about bugs, and in some of those far-off places she doesn't even know what the bugs would look like? How much does she trust hubby to keep her safe in this strange new world?

    I'd advise her to find some friends, online or in the crusing community, for support and reality checks. After all, anything can happen out there (she thinks in panic) but not **quite** anything: she can't get eaten by a dinosaur or run over by a train in the middle of the ocean. How scared of water is she, by the way? Does a sink or teacup set her off? She starts by learning to confront those, then moves on to bathtubs or street flooding? (Of course you have to realize that I'm the wrong one to give suggestions here; my folks did everything they could to raise me un-neurotic so I'm shootin' in the dark. My grandmother was fearful of everything, and with good reason, having been traumatically smuggled across WWI Europe as a teenager. My mother remembered what life was like being raised by this well meaning but worried woman and vowed that her own family would not be the same.

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    1. Jaye - these are awesome ideas!! I LOVE them! You sure you don't want to join in and do NaNoWriMo too? You have a fantastic imagination - for someone who isn't neurotic, you sure know how they think :-)

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  2. Oh I love those suggestions above. I can think of a few of my friends who just don't get it when it comes to sailing. Perhaps she is the kind of girl who can't live without a hair dryer and nail polish.

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    1. That's a great idea - a girly girl who has to do without all of her creature comforts. When her toenail polish starts chipping, she freaks out! LOVE it!

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  3. Perhaps perhaps the idea of peeing in a bucket is incomprehensible? I'm thinking along the lines of those "you know you're a sailor when..." Lists of funny things that makes the sailing life so unique.

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    1. Brilliant! That is such a rite of passage - once you've peed in a bucket, you've joined the club.

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  4. When she was a kid she kept the monsters from hiding under the bed by, I dunno, only wearing red on Tuesdays and having exactly 7 things on her nightstand (including 2 flashlights and a bell). So now as an adult she knows those rituals are silly, but she still wears a good luck charm around her neck, which she twists back and forth on its chain with when there are whitecaps. She doesn't overcome all her fears, she "manages" some of them with these rituals...until of course she sees there's no difference between being scared but going sailing anyway, and not being scared at all. Maybe?

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    1. Jaye - you're on fire! I like the idea of finding a way for her to manage her fears such as a lucky charm.

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  5. I am completely neurotic about the upholstery on our salon cushions. Mike starts getting out tools, I start covering the cushions. I stand there with the hand cleaner as he approaches the cushions to lift one up and peek into the cubby below. I step in front of him, grabbing at his greasy hands and squirting madly. I'm thinking of making ugly slipcovers just to protect the fabric. Never mind that this means I'll never see the pretty fabric again. I can't get more of that fabric and I love it. I am also neurotic about smells. When I open the hatch to enter the boat, I begin the long suffering sniffing. Is that a diesel smell? Or something worse? Because I cannot bear for my boat to have a smell. Of any kind., unless it's candles or bleach (see below). Ok, and I am also neurotic about the sooty smoke that comes out of his oil lamp, the one hanging above my salon cushions. Soot never comes off of anything. Why can he not keep two things in his mind at one time? Both the cleanliness of the cushions, and also the fact that the lamp smoke is sooty or his hands are dirty? I don't have trouble juggling both these things. Why does he? Then there is shallow water. I start getting troubled when the depth sounder gets under 100 feet. Because...rocks. By the time we are in 20 feet I am sweating bullets and have tunnel vision and am waiting for that jarring sensation that means we've run aground, even though I've only run aground once and it was 10 years ago in mud. In addition, I am totally neurotic about mildew. Bleach is my best friend. If my boat smells like bleach, I am happy. Because it means I have killed spores by the thousand, if not million. It's very satisfying. But I'm starting to wonder why I signed on to this whole cruising thing.

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    1. I completely get the thing about the cushions. Yours are gorgeous - I love the fabric you chose. I wouldn't want anyone getting their grubby paws on them either.

      I cleaned out our v-berth the other day. On one side was the to be expected musty smell, which I conquered with bleach spray. But on the other side, it smelled wonderful with a bleachy aroma. Turns out the bottle of bleach I kept in there broke and all the bleach spilled out and evaporated leaving these bleach crystals and that wonderful bleachy fresh smell. I'm pretty sure billions of spores were killed in that particular locker.

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  6. One thing that almost sunk my sailing ambitions was my control-freak tendencies, particularly concerning passage planning and the weather. I was convinced that I could study my way to safety, charting a course that would never lead me into swell greater than 2 meters or winds greater than 25 knots. It took awhile, but I had to learn to "let go" and accept that even the most carefully planned strategy doesn't resemble reality all that often. Learning to roll with the punches is not easy for a control freak, but it's essential if you want to continue to cruise !

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    1. That's a great angle. If she was someone who was always in control of everything at work and then suddenly found herself on this boat where she can't control anything, that would make her crazy. Love it!

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  7. Top reasons for being neurotic:

    Being helpless: The sea is big, the boat is small and you can't get off.
    Lack of control: The sea moves and so do you.
    Discussing things won't help: Try reasoning with a squall-line about the fairness of hitting right now.
    Big forces at work: When 14 tons move in 2m waves, being timid isn't helping much. And you can't switch it off.
    Taking decisions and suffering the consequences: Wait, I didn't mean to, really, can't we retry?

    and finally: The wind won't care about your tears and cries.

    From a BDSM point of view, sailing, specially longer passages are the ultimate tunnel game.

    Advice for the women: Look out for the sunsets and the sundowners.

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    1. I think not being able to control the weather would definitely be one of the things my character really gets neurotic about. I can just imagine her trying to reason with the wind and complaining to Mother Nature about all the squalls :-)

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    2. It goes a little further: The stereotype girl education promotes conforming and resolving problems socially. Solving problems by physical contest (or violence) is something more acceptable for boys.

      Now when out on the sea, the physical approach works better. A clogged toilet - to take a random example - is better resoved by getting out the screwdriver and the latex gloves than discussing with the clogged drain about duty to humanity and fairness. And calling for help won't help either, if there's no help around.

      So typically female problem-solving strategies often don't work. That's a perfect reason to become neurotic.

      The solution? The feeling of success after solving a problem, even if it involves lot of cursing and dirty hands. And a double whiskey afterwards. Any solution of boat problem must involve at some point either whiskey, rum or magueritas. That's a law of nature.

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    3. I can definitely relate to the sweet feeling of success after fixing our toilet. It felt good to go out of my comfort zone and tackle a problem I would have normally left to my husband.

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