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  • Writer's pictureBenita Garvin

Gidget and Surfing - a Writing Metaphor

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

When I was a young girl, I went bonkers over Gidget. I was light years from the original surfer girl, blond haired pixie-ish Sandra Dee. I was a brunette-haired Jewish living in Detroit encountering the California sun and surf for the first time, on a movie screen. I loved Gidget’s independence. Her unwillingness to back down in the face of all those surfer guys (this is pre-surfer ‘dudes’) bullying and tormenting her for the usual reason (threatened by her), EVEN Moondoggie, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first time I saw Gidget (I saw it many times), I came home, locked myself in my room, hopped atop my single bed and pretended to surf. Over dinner, I asked my parents if I could take surfing lesson. I learned a critical piece, though painful, piece of geography. My father broke the news that surfing requires an ocean. Michigan wasn’t driving distance to any coastline.

As a resident of California for the last thirty years, I’ve spent many gorgeous days on the magnificent California Coast. I have no fucking idea why people surf!! NOTHING looks more boring. Bobbing around in the water quite literally all day and maybe, with a little luck you’ll catch a wave for a grand total of half hour. The hard-core surfers don’t get out of the water to fucking eat! They wait and wait and wait. It’s very Zen, I suppose.

Then it it hit me! Writing is like surfing.

You bob around in your head waiting and waiting for inspiration to wash over you. When you think you can’t wait another second, a wave swells up. You go for it, taking the ride, not knowing where you will end up or whether you will wipe out. You’re totally lost in the moment. You forget how awful it was to bob around like a piece of seaweed hour after hour. You realize you were born to surf! Nothing makes you happier.

You ride the wave until it flattens near shore. Then you lug your board back out into the waves and wait and wait and WAIT until the next perfect wave comes along.

Inspiration isn’t a permanent state. It comes and it goes. Some ideas grab harder. Have a deeper hold on you. But if you don’t get into the water, you can’t find the wave that’s going to sweep you into your story and deep into your unconscious. That’s called “flow.”

I’m starting a 3-hour one day class to expose reluctant creative types to stick a toe into the water. Why not! The water is warm and inviting.

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