Moby Dick

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.” Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Searching for the next big catch.

Melville’s work was reviled when it first came out. It was moved aside to allow for freer pieces, that did not amplify the flighty nature of the common man. It was published in 1851 in London. Melville tried to write for years after the horrible reception for Moby Dick. He gave up, went back to New York City and worked in customs for twenty years. His work never paid off, not until 1922 when the world “rediscovered” the work.


Now everyone knows it and has had some exposure to it. The whale was real, the story hard nosed and too progressive for the taste of the country. Why? Why is it that most of the great writers are only great after they are dead? It’s ridiculous, something in human nature has to account for this. Think about all of the suffering those people went through trying to “make it.” Some like Melville, lost their dream and moved on to “reality.”

It’s strange, why are some people wealthy and others are not? Social Darwinism or just plain luck? It does jade thousands and millions of aspiring writers a day.

I keep telling others that I mentor, it does not ever get easier, but you get better.