Friday, 7 January 2011

Geeking out for the cause

A couple of months ago, I spent a whole afternoon constructing a plastic boat with a hollow tube poking up through the middle, just to see what the water in the tube would do. I'd read about moon pools, but I wanted to see it for myself.

It was all for the cause of my own fictional ship, one of the central elements in my story. I knew I wanted it to have a sort of hollow gear chamber in the middle, connected to the water, and I knew I'd seen things like that in movies, but the questions kept growing. Should it be pressurized? What did it need to function without internal pressure? How much of the rest of the ship (and the people who lived on it) would be below the water line? A bit of Googling for answers led me down a geeky rabbit hole, including the startling discovery that the same people who believe that the remains of Noah's Ark are preserved on a mountaintop somewhere also believe that it had a structure not far off from the one I'd given my ship. Including the moon pool.

Before I knew it, I was cutting a hole in the base of a plastic food container and cannibalizing the plastic tube from the pump-top of an empty bottle of moisturiser.

It was a productive day. No, seriously. I may not have put many words to the (virtual) page, but I did gain a new and concrete understanding of the world I was creating, one that led to a complete restructuring of my fictional society, and even of my plot. That little boat floating in my kitchen sink kicked off a whole creative revolution.

Today has kind of been like that, only without the arts and crafts. I hit a point in the story where I absolutely had to understand some of the central rules to my fictional world before I could move forward. Four hours later, I've got a head full of harmonics theories, musical notation, and historical tuning techniques for keyboard instruments, and it's blowing my mind a little.

I freaking love days like this.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The good life

Two months. Just shocking, isn't it? Luckily, my novelling hasn't fallen as far as my blogging, although I did give myself a holiday for the, er, holidays. It was essential survival tactics.

But today I got back to it, and I was surprised at how happy I was to be back in that world again. I'd missed it. I'd missed my characters, and their universe. My first step to writerly rehabilitation this morning was to re-read the first few chapters to get back in the flow, and it was fun. Weirdly, 'fun' isn't a word I often associate with writing. 'Rewarding,' yes. 'Enjoyable', 'exhilarating', even occasionally 'thrilling', but rarely fun. I agonise over details; I delete more than I write. I do a lot of frowning at the screen and shaking my head. My husband can sit down, crack his knuckles and start typing away without pause, whipping out a cracking little scene and not worrying too much about the flaws. I make him shut the office doors when he does that, so I don't hear all that prolific typing and get jealous.

But today? That was fun. I put on a weird mix of Daft Punk, Muse, Live, Billie Holliday, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and then I let all that atmosphere gel into a scene about the nightlife in a great city in the belly of a clockwork ship, where the tick-tock of the gears set the rhythm for musicians and pedestrians alike. It may be a really stupid idea, and it might not make the final cut. But damn, it was fun to write.