A Pearl in the Storm

Ten years after becoming the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Tori Murden McClure has published a memoir about her quest and the lessons she learned along the way.

“A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean” (HarperCollins) hit book stores yesterday. I had the opportunity to interview McClure a couple of weeks ago for Velocity Weekly (I promised you a link to the Q&A but it wasn’t posted online. Sorry. But I’ll share some highlights from our talk in this post.)

McClure is pretty amazing and not only rowed across an ocean but has skied to the South Pole and climbed mountains in Antarctica. She has a master’s in divinity from Harvard University and a law degree. She once ran a shelter for homeless women and she now serves as vice president at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. (Yeah, I felt pretty worthless too after learning all this.)

During our chat McClure told me she had trouble figuring out a way to write her adventure story in a way that would also speak to the female experience. “Folks kept reading it and saying ‘You’re writing it as a man would write it,'” she said.

Recognizing that the quest narrative is typically told from the male perspective, she saw this as her chance to change that. To improve the memoir she started to share stories of the people who had made a difference in her life, people she called pearls in her storm. And McClure said she hopes that people who read her book, especially those people having a tough time these days, will look around and find that there are pearls in their storm too.

I asked McClure what she learned out there in the ocean. She said she realized that all her life she’d been trying to deny her humanity. She realized that a part of her believed that if she could be superhuman she could protect her loved ones from anything.

“But I can row across the Atlantic — I can row to the moon — and there are still going to be things I can’t change,” she said.

But while she was out there in the middle of the ocean, McClure said she realized that the only thing that makes that reality bearable is love.

“That was the big Aha! for me,” she said. “Most people don’t have to row across the Atlantic to figure that out.”

Click here for more on “A Pearl in the Storm.”


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