Sunday, August 2, 2015

Deep Waters

This picture actually terrifies me...
I think I'm in over my head.

To begin with, I'm writing a novel about a sea voyage, when the only time I've ever been on the ocean in a vessel of any sort was going crabbing with my grandfather.
Oh yes, and I was four.
It's a sailing ship, too, and I was on a sailboat once, on a lake, in a twelve-or-so-foot boat with one triangular sail. This ship is a cargo barque with at least three masts and probably at least two rectangular sails per mast. I've read a number of books about sailing boats, though, so that should count for something, right? I feel like it has.

My story is set in the 1850's. A time-period that, as I now know, I know very little about.

It begins in the Caribbean. An area I have never visited. See that picture of a map? You now know more about the Caribbean than I did when I started this process.

The sea journey, my ignorance concerning which has already been discussed, takes them to Victorian era England. I think it's telling that my first reaction, when I realized this, was "Oh! Steampunk!" It took me about thirty seconds to realize that wasn't going to work. Not without holding the story at gunpoint in order to shove it in.

So I know nothing about my setting or time-period. No big deal, right? Google and all that sort of thing. Research. It's all easily remedied.

I haven't even mentioned the plot yet.

To begin with, I'm shamelessly borrowing from Shakespeare. I didn't set out to do that, it just so happened that my initial story idea had strong resemblances to one of Shakespeare's works, and when I realized that, I decided I'd make my story a retelling of that work. Which I fondly believed to be "The Tempest." Which I hadn't read.
Well, it turned out that the play I was thinking of was "A Winter's Tale," but I hadn't read it either, so it didn't make that much difference.
And yes, I have now read it.

Then, I decided that I would borrow from Dante and all my chapter numbers would be planned out and each part would have a number of chapters that was divisible by three and good grief, was that ever a stupid plan. I shudder to think of the amount of trimming and slimming I'm going to have to do in the editing stage thanks to extra chapters desperately dragged out just to make those numbers work.

Maybe trying to borrow from two greats at once isn't such a great plan.

And to wrap this all up, I'm incorporating literary alchemy, also something I'm learning about as I go, planning out the plot ahead of time, which I have never done, and my chosen blueprint is ring scaffolding. The frantic research on ring scaffolding is just beginning.

One more thing.

I just set a deadline for myself to finish this beast before Christmas.
(Cue hysterical manic laughter)

Ladies and gentlemen, I might possibly have my first draft done before Christmas, but there is no way in the galaxy that I will have it published before Christmas. I know this, and yet I persist in working like I think it's going to happen. Even if did happen, the amount of error that would slip past me is terrifying. Did I mention that the only thing I know anything about in this whole story is my characters, and that only because I invented them all myself? Am I considering the amount of research I'm going to have to do to make this work? Have I learned nothing from all the time I've spent researching already?
Apparently not.

It would seem that I'm not only insane, in all this persistently going beyond my depth, but that I like it.

Oh well. What better way to learn about English colonization of the Caribbean, the trade routes across the Atlantic, the history of the Kalinago people, post Industrial Revolution London, the Golden Age of sail, the different between a brigantine, a barque, and a clipper ship, how to use a sextant, the island of Dominica, which docks in London were used by the West India Trading Company, the Tempest, the Winter's Tale, the psychology of unreasonable jealousy, Shakespeare's life, the Divine Comedy, Dante's use of numbers, Dante's life, literary alchemy, the symbols for nigredo, albedo, and rubedo stages within the story, the history of the science of alchemy, ring scaffolding, the history of ring scaffolding in literature, and redemption, renewal, and transformation in human lives?

I misspoke. I don't merely like this. This is not just some project involving interesting study.
I love it. This is my element. I could talk about this stuff for hours.

It's not really that I want it done by Christmas. I just want an excuse to obsess over it from now until then.

And that's a particularly good excuse.