“I feel fine. I am quite prepared to swim back.” Brave words from a brave woman—Florence Chadwick. In 1950, the American swimmer became the first female swimmer to cross the open waters of the English Channel, finishing her epic quest when she stepped onto the beaches of Dover.
But there’s a story behind the story. Just a short time before her epic victory over cold, time, and distance, Florence failed. In the water for 14 hours, she gave up just a half-mile from the shore. What made her quit? It wasn’t the bone-chilling cold. Or the long hours in the water. Or the sharks that were circling around her and had to be fended off.
It was the fog.
After many long hours in the water, Florence was defeated by the foggy weather which made it impossible to see the shore. Discouraged, she simply couldn’t go on.
But not long after her fruitless attempt, Florence stepped into the icy waters of the French coast and set out across the English Channel again. There was fog all around her this time, too. But this time Florence ignored it, knowing and trusting that her goal—the Dover coast—lay ahead, just waiting for her.
What an inspiring story! From crushing defeat to courageous triumph!
There’s a message here for us. We may not be long-distance, open-water swimmers like Florence, but as writers, we have goals of our own—shores we want to reach. And just like Florence, we have all kinds of obstacles in our way. And sometimes, like Florence, we lose sight of our destination. Fog descends. We feel confused and uncertain.
But, just like Florence did in her second swim, we can find the shore if we just keep swimming in the right direction, stroke by stroke. Word by word. Trust and courage will see us through as we all write on!
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