“Everybody loves a juicy story with just enough naughty components that your interest is kept from beginning to end. So learning to pare and filter is important.” These were the words of wisdom imparted to me by the infamous teller of tall sea tales, Bosun’s Mate first-class John O’Toole. As everyone knows, a sea story differs from a fairy tale by two significant details:
- a fairy tale starts with once upon a time – a sea story inevitably has the warning posted out front that “this is no shit.) T.I.N.S
- The fairy tale ends with the sweetness and light – “and they all lived happily after,” but the sea story advises you of the absolute truth of the story because you heard it yourself from someone who had been on board when it happened.
Of course, O’Toole promptly suggested that this was just the rudiments. Anyone can learn the rules in five minutes, but mastery could take a lifetime. So, I have been working tirelessly at this now for several years. And, I think I may have achieved Journeyman status.
A few years ago I found out what happened to the masterful O’Toole. After twenty years of not making chief in the Navy, he retired and has became a successful author: Dorothy LaFlamme – specializes in bodice rippers.
I guess it’s like Jack Londen said, “You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.”