Rowing to New Zealand

4 Jun

100 words for Friday Fictioneers, a group of raft builders from around the world, supervised by head shipwright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, based on the photo prompt below.


Rowing to New ZealandCopyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

On placid water I launch my vessel, raising sea level around the world. I pull on the oars to clear the surf line and watch the wake, quiet evidence of my passage, expand toward opposite horizons. The journey ahead is long, the ocean vast. I will find my way across, buoyed by the knowledge that we are each a small brush stroke in the Painter’s masterpiece, even as we struggle to write our own. One good sentence is a miracle. A paragraph is a gift.

In the still of the night ironwoods sigh, candle light flickers and imagination takes flight.








93 Responses to “Rowing to New Zealand”

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) June 4, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Doug, I love this poetic prose.. I have a feeling of a world after the seas have risen with only a few left to repopulate a shrinking mass of land.. love that you used the ironwood in your text… stellar — Björn

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Trying to evoke the night and love and the process of creation. Thanks for looking upon the waters and commenting.



  2. Gunn's Cabin Fever June 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    A paragraph is a gift. …. that stays with me, in this philosophical piece..

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

      Dear Managua,

      Writing for me is like mining opals. You can be right next to them and never see, but when you hit upon the right combination of words, you know it.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  3. elmowrites June 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Aren’t we all rowing to New Zealand in our own ways, Doug? With words like these, I know you’ll get there. If I make it, I’ll see you on the beach.

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,

      Your words are a strong current pushing me to the south. Thank you, as always and yes, I will see you on the beach.



  4. Sandra June 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    ‘One good sentence is a miracle, a paragraph a gift’. That will stay with me. So glad you’re back and I have your work to look forward to.

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thank you for the encouragement. Your comment makes the labor of each sentence seem less hard, the reward greater. i appreciate it…and you.



  5. DCTdesigns June 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Doug-I love the prose of life’s journey and our contributing brushstrokes to the greater masterpiece. I needed this reminder today- that a paragraph is a gift. This is a wonderful piece of philosophy and I have been rowing a while. Thanks for writing a little encouragement. Dana

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      Dear Dana,

      I have seen you out there pulling. Remember Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena. I see you.

      Thank you for rowing.



  6. Claire Fuller June 4, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    A very beautiful analogy of the life we’re all living. One quibble, if I may? I love the brush stroke and the painter, and the lines about writers and paragraphs, but in such a short piece I wonder if it would have been better to stick to either painting or writing. For me, it doesn’t flow as well as if you had.

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Dear Claire,

      Your insight and thoughts and ‘quibbles’ are always appreciated. You ‘may’ often and always and I will be ever grateful for the help.

      That thought that I should stick to one or the other crossed my mind and I tried to write Rowing to New Zealand using each single theme but could not find the right words to acknowledge Hokusai and, of course, the Painter. The honorific is a nod to Hafiz, Persian poet, who wrote How Do I Listen? among hundreds of others. (That poem is how I feel about your words to me. Thank you again.)

      In the end it was the link between writers and artists that made me decide to keep it as is. Too often I forget that I am painting and when I do, I might as well stop and wait until I remember.



      • Claire Fuller June 5, 2014 at 6:39 am #

        I think sometimes in writing just having gone through the thought process and made a decision at the end of it is enough. And it certainly seems you have.

  7. Jan Brown June 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    A lovely and hopeful metaphor. Your story is a gift!

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      Dear Jan,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am glad mine resonated with you.



  8. artfullyadelie June 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    A comforting and insightful metaphor. Often times, I feel tossed between the waves and lost at sea. Your words will definitely stick with me and guide me like a beacon breaking the thick fog of self-doubt. Thank you for the very thought-provoking photograph as well!

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Dear Adelie,

      You are welcome for the photo. Thanks for thanking me. And I am glad that you identified with the story. It means you are a writer and I hope a part of my writing sticks with yours forever. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  9. high five and raspberries June 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    With your words you have painted a beautiful picture filled with hope. Just perfect !

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

      Dear Patricia,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Hemingway said that “Writers must stick together like beggars and thieves.” I appreciate your company around the fire.



  10. helenmidgley June 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    I applaud your ‘gift’ that paragraph was a triumph 🙂

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      Dear Helen,

      Thank you for reading it and letting me know you enjoyed it.



  11. lingeringvisions by Dawn June 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    The art of writing and painting are intertwined so poetically here I have no doubt that an ode by a painter would be interpreted as beautifully. .

    • dmmacilroy June 4, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

      Dear Dawn,

      Too often we writers forget that we are painters with words as our pigment and a pen as our brush. Thank you for reading and letting me know you enjoyed the painting.



      • lingeringvisions by Dawn June 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

        I have a friend who is a painter and she reminds me all the time that I am as much an artist as she is. I love my friends! 😉

  12. rochellewisoff June 4, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I can find no words that haven’t already been said so you’ll have to be content with my tears.



    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      Thank you for the tears. Best thing a writer can read from a friend.



  13. Ellespeth June 5, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Hi Doug ~
    Your piece moved me to a still place. I especially liked this “…we are each a small brush stroke in the Painter’s masterpiece, even as we struggle…” A great image!

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Dear Ellespeth,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I am happy to hear that the ripples of my writing reached you.



  14. sustainabilitea June 5, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    Your entire wonderful story was a twist–a story about writing a story. Unique choice able executed! I’m glad to say we won’t be rowing to New Zealand when we go. 🙂


    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Dear Janet,

      Thanks for seeing what you saw in it. Yes to not rowing. Hard on the arms.



  15. Nan Claire Falkner June 5, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    Dear Doug, Love the photo – you did an awesome job on it and in your melodic writing. Love the “paragraph is a gift” You are VERY talented and I’m extremely impressed. Thanks for the words! Nan 🙂

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Dear Nan,

      Thank you very much for your kind comments. I am blushing re the talented part. I try and that is all I can do…keep trying. I appreciate your encouragement.



  16. draliman June 5, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Amazing imagery. I found this a very relaxing and philosophical piece!

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:08 am #

      Dear Draliman,

      I was aiming for that and other elusive targets. Thanks for letting me know I hit the mark.



  17. patrickprinsloo June 5, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    A great metaphor for writing – the process, the pleasure it gives, the impact it has on the universe. I also liked the ‘mining for opals’ comment above. Too true.

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      Dear Patrick,

      Yes, it was all about writing and I was speaking to everyone in this group of Friday friends. The ripples of our work moves outward and we never know who will be effected or to what extent. I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment.



  18. Snow's Fissures and Fractures June 5, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    You said in your reply to one of the comments: “Writing for me is like mining opals.” For me, writing is like water – smooth, cool, flowing. I felt your words gently caressing my soul, thank you for that.

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Dear Lore,

      Thank you for sharing. I proof a sentence by asking my myself how it flows, so yes, I agree with your thoughts about writing being like water. Well said.



  19. patriciaruthsusan June 5, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Doug, Lovely piece. In a way it reminded me of the islanders in James Michener’s “Hawaii” setting out from Tahiti in their large craft and finally finding Hawaii. Very poetic flow to your words. Cute baby picture. 🙂 —Susan

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Dear Susan,

      And some of those canoes never reached landfall….Yet still we write. It’s a hard life, but in the end, the writing is its own reward. Thank you for your kind words.



      • patriciaruthsusan June 5, 2014 at 11:28 am #

        Doug, I forgot to thank you for the lovely photo. 🙂 —Susan

  20. Karen Whitelaw June 5, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    This is a beautifully poetic piece, Doug, of miracles and gifts.

    • dmmacilroy June 5, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Dear Karen,

      Thank you for stopping by to read and comment so nicely. i appreciate the feedback.



  21. EagleAye June 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Wow, this drew me in with the smooth writing. I love the bittersweet tone of someone leaving the familiar to face the challenge of what’s over the horizon. Wonderful. I love it.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      Dear EagleAye,

      I kind of cheated by writing about writing to writers, but hey, it worked out well. Thanks for your kind comments.



  22. talesfromthemotherland June 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Doug, thank you for this wonderful photo this week! I love the feel of the candlelight against the computer screen. Your story is poetic and haunting, each sentence the miracle you aim for, the whole beautiful to read. From the first line, “raising sea level around the world,” had me hooked.

    If I may be presumptuous, I had a thought about the order of two parts of a sentence… “I pull on the oars to clear the surf line and watch the wake, quiet evidence of my passage, expand toward opposite horizons.” I think that this small change would be more impactful. I wouldn’t change a word, only the order: “… and watch the wake expand toward the opposite horizons, quiet evidence of my passage” Only a suggestion, for a beautiful piece. Namaste, dawn

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      Dear Dawn,

      As always, please accept my heartfelt appreciation for you input, both the nice compliments and the constructive criticism. I know what it takes to articulate such sentiments and thoughts. When I finish answering all the comments I’m going to revisit the piece and I think I will change it as you suggested because at first glance, it looks too good (reads too good) to not change it. Thank you many times over.



      • talesfromthemotherland June 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

        I’m glad you appreciate the feedback. As I said, I love the story, as is, so would be so sorry if the input had been at all offensive. It reads good either way! 😉

  23. aliciajamtaas June 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Aloha, Doug, and, well, shoot! Everyone else has said it all .. vessel, buoyed, brush stroke, masterpiece, miracle … all these lovely words woven together in a beautiful piece.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Dear Alicia,

      Thank you for your kind comments. Miracle is that I hit the ‘publish’ button. It seems to have worked out well.



  24. Helena Hann-Basquiat June 5, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    What a wonderful metaphor for what we do, Doug. Thank you for this.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:17 am #

      Dear Helena,

      You are most welcome. I believe I’ve seen you out there rowing, so this one is for you.



  25. Shandra June 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    Lovely piece. Thank you.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      Dear Shandra,

      Thanks for the kind words. You’re welcome.



  26. elappleby June 6, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Hi Doug
    It seems everyone has picked their favourite part of this to claim as their own, like scavenging seagulls (but nice friendly ones). I claim the description of the wake ‘quiet evidence of my passage’. You’ve made me look at things differently.
    I also looked up ‘ironwoods’ for the first time, even though I knew that was the name of your blog, so I learned something new. It’s not a term we use over here.
    Lovely writing as always.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      Dear El,

      There is a tree line of Ironwoods that forms the border between Parker Ranch and our property. They are often mistaken for a breed of pine tree, but are not. Their needles sigh in the trade winds and when I am thinking late at night, it is the first sound i hear through the open office windows.

      I really appreciate your comments and input and it pleases me that you seem to have enjoyed the story. I was thinking about how what we write effects people and things on into the future, long after we type the words or hit ‘publish’. It was intended as encouragement and a reminder of sorts, to hang in there when the task ahead seems daunting.

      Thanks for commenting.



  27. siobhanmcnamara June 6, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    There is a lovely serenity in your story that captures that inner peace when everything is coming together and we can find a way to appreciate life. I love that it is also a celebration of art and artists of all sorts.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:29 am #

      Dear Siobahn,

      That is who we are and what we do. I love that I was able to write to all of us writers with it. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  28. Bastet June 6, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    This was fantastic. Your vivid imagery took me by tha hand and i could imagine being in the boat 1000 of years ago. Love the sense of harmony and peace.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Dear Bastet,

      Thanks for being transported and for the kind words and for reading my piece. I appreciate it.



  29. rgayer55 June 6, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    I use crayons, many of which have been chewed on, when creating my masterpiece. I don’t do a very good job staying inside the lines, but Mojo Doctor still pats me on the head and rubs my little plastic mustache – Mr. Potato Head

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Dear Russell,

      I’ll bring you a new box of crayons. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  30. freyathewriter June 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Thank you for the inspiring photo! Your words had such rhythm, I felt as if I was bobbing along on the water too. Peaceful, so peaceful.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Dear Freya,

      You’re welcome for the picture. Thanks for thanking me and for reading and commenting.



  31. Craig Towsley June 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Absolute truth: “One good sentence is a miracle.” Great piece Doug.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Dear Craig,

      Trying to string them together. Thanks for listening.



  32. Rick Daddario June 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    aloha Doug. i like the way you pull the reader in and address us with your statement.

    i couldnt help thinking about the Polynesian way of understanding sea travel (and i believe all movement). that the rower remains in place and pulls the world past the canoe. thus drawing other islands to the canoe.

    a fun photograph to drift on. thank you for contributing it. aloha. rick

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:37 am #

      Dear Rick,

      An apt description of travel on the ocean. When I was on my submarine and the hatches were closed and three weeks later we opened them and were somewhere else, I often thought about slow time travel, for it seemed that way to me. Thank you for reading and commenting.



      • Rick Daddario June 18, 2014 at 8:36 am #

        yes. i can see how the submarine experience could lead to that idea of slow time travel. to me i can also see how it might have a magical sense to it. altho for grown men that might not be the case as they’d most likely already understand it in a different way. still, it seems to me it would be a lot like the first ride in an elevator for a child. get in the box. wait a few moments and get out of the box in an entirely different place. magic. and the same wonderment might apply to a submarine experience. perhaps only if we still retain the amazement of new glimpses into reality that a child has. . . . aloha. rick.

  33. Alice Audrey June 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I’m so spoiled. Even as i struggle with it I forget what a gift it is to be able to write.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Dear Alice,

      Happy to be the vehicle with the reminder as my cargo.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  34. K.Z. June 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    what a beautiful metaphor, Doug. not a word wasted here. “One good sentence is a miracle. A paragraph is a gift.” I’ll remember that.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Dear K.Z,

      I am glad you recognized it for what it was. I was thinking about the trials of writers when I wrote it. If I ever forget, will you please remind me? Thanks for reading and commenting.



  35. Sun June 7, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    i feel the entire universe can come to a pause with your words: “One good sentence is a miracle. A paragraph is a gift.”

    simply eloquent
    . . . and thank you for the photograph this week . . .

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Dear Sun,

      Thanks for your beautiful comment. Keeps ink in the inkwell. I appreciate it.



  36. sandraconner June 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Wow ….. just wow. The imagery here is on so many levels that I’ve had to read it three times to be able to enjoy each level separately. An extraordinary lovely piece of writing, Doug.

    However, I KNEW the photo was from you long before I went to Rochelle’s site and saw your name. I first saw the photo in another writer’s post as it came up on my “WP Reader,” and although the picture came up, your credits were farther into the piece, so they didn’t show in the Reader. But I KNEW!

    I told Rochelle a few minutes ago that it is just like you to throw us such a challenge with your photo juxtaposing one of the most modern pieces of technology against the sense of isolated, pioneer habitat that is evoked by the rest of the photo — thus making us feel suspended between two worlds. As a result, I felt compelled to try to tell a story from two worlds, and that is well nigh impossible in 100 words. I don’t know whether to say “Thanks for the challenge,” or to just say, “Whew! Glad that’s over!”

    • sandraconner June 7, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      P.S. Perhaps I should make it clear that when I first looked at the picture, I saw the inset as an iPad with a picture on the screen. I realized later that it could be a painting in a frame, but the idea of the iPad just STUCK and wouldn’t go away. That’s what I meant about the “modern technology” and the two worlds. Sorry if I was confusing.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      How did you know it was my picture? My slippers been out partying?

      I want you to know that I always appreciate your detailed and insightful comments. There is a kind of duality in that picture but it took posting it and then reading all the stories to see it clearly.

      Not confusing at all, either. You write with a clarity many would do well to emulate.



      • sandraconner June 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

        I honestly don’t know HOW I knew it was your picture, but I definitely did. One woman’s blog post with that picture came up before yours did in my Reader, and as I was clicking onto her original post to read her story, I actually said to myself, “That picture has got to be from Doug.”

  37. MM Jaye June 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    That was fantastic! Vivid, evocative, inspiring! One of the best (if not the best) I’ve read so far.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:50 am #

      Dear Maria,
      Your kind comment makes me blush. I’m just happy to be here rowing.

      Mahalo and Aloha,


  38. unspywriter June 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Beautifully done, and I agree: the prose is very poetic and evocative.

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:52 am #

      Dear Maggie,

      Thanks for dropping by to read. Loved yours the week.



  39. subroto June 8, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    What a great metaphor. A coherent sentence is always a miracle for me. I frequently find myself paddling upstream in a leaky canoe.

    • dmmacilroy June 8, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Dear Subroto,

      I used to use that canoe. Here’s a trick for getting going again. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • colehturner June 8, 2014 at 11:38 am #

        My favorite part: One good sentence is a miracle. A paragraph is a gift. Great job.

  40. maru clavier June 8, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    A blank page or screen is like an ocean… we sail thorug it, like the image in the image… suggestive lines, made me sigh for the unknown dreams.

  41. MythRider June 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    So very beautifully written. I can only repeat, or just agree, with what others have said.
    Keep it up.

  42. hafong June 8, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Very poetic! I’m sure my partner would love to sail along while you row. He’s somewhat poetic and has a Wind Rider trimaran.

  43. Jessie Ansons June 9, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Raising sea levels around the world – that line is genius! Well done.

  44. Sarah Ann June 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Beautiful and lyrical. As I count my own miracle sentences and paragraphs, your stories always push me to strive for better, to row a little harder. Thank you for the gifts you shower on FF.

  45. patriciaruthsusan June 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Doug, I just found while double checking comments that I hadn’t been notified of some of them. Your’s was among them so I just now replied. Thanks and sorry about that. 🙂 —Susan


  1. Friday Fictioneers-Of Writing, Rituals and Love | Rendezvous With Renee - June 7, 2014

    […] copyright-Douglas MacIlroy […]

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