What did you want to be?

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

What did you want to be when you grew up, vs. what you are today?

In some ways, I’m still waiting to grow up.

I might have grown old but I still feel about 18 inside.

Back when I really was young, I wanted to travel, to see the world. Maybe that’s where the desire to write about other worlds came from. I’d still like to see other worlds. I’m sure that one day part of my D.N.A. will travel to the stars, inside the cells of one of my descendants. In a way, I’ll be there.

I spent my career on ships. I saw other worlds. OK, they were on this planet but back in the days before instant communication and the internet, they were as other-worldly as any of my subsequent creations. There was no homogenisation of culture back then, foreign meant different, not McDonald’s and all the familiar places and things from everywhere else.

Hardly anyone spoke much English in a lot of the places I visited, you had to communicate with signs, gestures, a piece of paper with an address on it. For a young lad from Devon, it was a revelation.


I’m a retired Master Mariner and Thames Pilot, sitting in my house in Devon, five minute’s walk from the sea. In my seagoing life, I did most of the things I always wanted to.

I went around Cape Horn, voyaged six-hundred miles up the Amazon.

I sailed through storms, saw volcanoes, felt earthquakes and stood watch at three a.m.; with a million stars overhead and the smell of Sandalwood on the breeze.

Later, I piloted over 3,000 ships on the Thames, from yachts to supertankers.

I went through the Thames Barrier, pushed through the mud and reeds in Barking Creek. I backed the largest passenger ships to visit London at the time through Tower Bridge, reversed a warship into the West India Dock.

I amassed a brain full of stories and characters, good and bad, funny and tragic. When I cast my mind back to all the places that I’ve been there are so many things that I can pick out; to modify and retell in a new setting. My job travelling the world had set me up for a second career as an author.

Would I change a moment of it?  NO!

Did I achieve what I wanted? More than I ever could have imagined.

That’s my story, my novels are really only based on things in my life, with a little bit of license, taken and placed in a new setting. Because when we boldly go, we will take it all with us. All the humanity, the emotion and all our vices. The story will be the same, it will all play out on a new stage.

How about you, where are you compared to where you thought you’d be? Let me know in the comments, then go and check out the other great blogs in this hop.

Just follow this link.



14 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    How lovely to have had a job you loved. I may have even been a passenger on one of your boats, if you ever piloted a Thames clipper?

    • Richard Dee

      I mainly did cargo and large passenger ships, I used to examine and assess the clipper Captains for their annual exemptions from pilotage though.

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    What an adventure! I imagine seeing the stars at sea is similar to seeing them from the top of a mountain with no light pollution to dim their glow.

    • Richard Dee

      They say that nothing is ever wasted. If that’s true then all the writing I never did when I saw those things has been saved for now. It’s up to me to use it.

  3. Chris L Adams

    Dash it all, Richard … you’ve done gone and made me feel like I’ve sat under a rock my entire life! Hah! What a life, man!

    I didn’t see the sea til the sea saw me, and I was 19 when she did. Frak, I was so hungry to see her that I read every boating yarn I could as a yanker: Two Years Before the Mast, Mutiny on the Bounty, Sink the Bismark, Horatio Hornblower, and others. I loved stories of the sea.

    I about died when I saw her for the first time (Daytona Beach, Bike Week, Spring Break … sounds like Corona hell but I was a nineteen-year-old kid with hair to my azz, playing in rock bands and I was loving seeing the ocean swells for the first time in my life). I never to this day tire of seeing and hearing the sea — that unpredictable mistress.

    I’ve no idea what I really want to be when I grow up. That dream changes with time and interests. Now that I’ve developed an interest in painting, I’d love to be a name to be reckoned with after I’m gone. It’d be fascinating to know my paintings are heavily bid on and people enjoy owning them. That is unlikely to happen as I’m self-taught and the competition is just too darn stiff.

    Heavens knows I’d love to be a recognized writer; that also may never happen, who can say. On a whim a name rises from out of the dust of obscurity, though; happens from time to time, just ask Ernest Cline.

    I’ve wanted to be a fireman (it was written in a little thing I had from kindergarten), a jet fighter pilot (hmm, I still wouldn’t mind that one, Richard!), an astronaut (“…if you are tuning in with us right now–and we can’t imagine that you aren’t–you are witnessing history … Chris Adams of West Virginia has just stepped foot on Mars … the first human to ever do so… My goodness, look at him go!”)

    Ahh…. sweet fantasy!

    But to sail up the Amazon, and round the horn and see volcanos! My goodness, if you just knew how often volcanos turn up in my stories! My new one, The Hunter and the Sorcerer, has an angry volcano making its presence known throughout most of the novel.

    Now, I did experience a 6.4 scale earthquake.. I was having breakfast on the coast of a bay in Alaska…. just across the bay was a volcano although it wasn’t erupting, blast it. Beyond that volcano, the earthquake occurred. It was a neat experience.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Richard. Blast me if that wasn’t entertaining, and I wish I could sail, like you have. I’ve been in subs (a WW2 US submarine, a WW2 Nazi U-boat, and visited the US Civil War era Hunley in Charleston, South Carolina), an aircraft carrier (the WW2 era Yorktown) and explored the bowels of a WW2 US battleship (US North Carolina) from top to bottom and stem to bloody stern. I’ve been on destroyers, and coast guard frigates.

    But the closest I’ve come to sailing on the sea is a few times catching the South Port/Fort Fisher ferry in North Carolina. Done that a few times. I want to be on a ship at sea so far out I can’t see land … that’s what I want to do.

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks for sharing that Chris, it sounds like a pretty good set of experiences to me. I dreamed of being in a rock band. The paintings of yours that I’ve seen are damn good too! Never say never, back in the day I could sail the ocean and not think of what to write home. One day it all changed and I learned how to listen to the voices in my head. And I’m still listening.

  4. phil huston

    “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”
    Those of us lucky enough to feel, to witness real magic are truly the lucky ones. Good show!

  5. Lela Markham

    Wow. My dad was a Merchant Mariner mostly in Pacific, though he did a couple of tours in the Atlantic during World War 2. He was a cook. A conscientious objector in World War 2, it was how he avoided the draft yet still served.

    My husband’s grandfather was a Marine engineer out of Rhode Island.

    It’s always cool to see how we can be connected to people who live on the other side of the world from us.

  6. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    You have had an adventurous life, Richard, and it sounds very satisfying. You have lots of great experiences to include in your books and fiction.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you. Sometimes I think other peoples lives have been far more interesting than mine; because what they did, didn’t happen to me. And I wish some of it had. If you know what I mean.

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