by Christine Kling
In certain circumstances, those can be the two most beautiful words in the English language: THE END. I got to type those words this week just before I emailed off the 130,600 word manuscript of Knight’s Cross to my editors. I can’t tell you how great it felt to push SEND.
These past three weeks since we returned to Majuro have been a hard slog of heading to the forepeak office desk after breakfast and staying there until dark. I only got off the boat about 3 times in 3 weeks – a couple of times to walk the dogs on the beach and once to go out to dinner. Wayne did all the shopping and laundry and cooked all the meals. I literally felt the muscles in my legs atrophying and often woke up in the night with aching legs. I have chronic pain in my shoulders and neck from osteoarthritis, but after this last grueling marathon, it felt like it was on fire at the end of each day when I staggered back to the transom and dove into the water in the dark to try to get a little exercise and to cool off.
But in reality, ever since we returned to the boat in August, I’ve been in this drafting mode.
I am not a fast writer. In the beginning of a book, it’s always the most difficult because I don’t know my characters or my story yet. I can’t see the settings very easily and I become this machine Hoovering up knowledge so that I can fill in the blanks on the screen in my mind. By the end of the book, I know what’s going to happen and I know these folks so well, I can write faster. But as difficult as it is to get into my story in the beginning, it’s just as difficult to come back out at the end. Especially when I start the final editing and reading through. I mean I might have physically been in Majuro these past two weeks, but in my mind I was in Turkey. Wayne would ask me a question and I’d look up blinking like I’d just been awakened. I think he might have been wondering if his new wife had early onset dementia.
One of my friends on another boat here asked me if it was worth it writing to a deadline or wouldn’t I prefer to just self-publish and be my own boss and not work so hard? I’m not sure she was even asking the question she really wanted the answer to. It’s like the title of this blog that gets to that dream you have when you’re working at a 9-5 job and wishing you could just be out sailing and writing stories. The thing is, no matter how you publish, writing is hard work that takes a toll on your brain and your body, and if you don’t have any deadlines at all, you’ll never finish what you start. But would I rather be writing on a boat in the South Pacific instead of doing it between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. before going to my day job as I did with the Seychelle books? You betcha!
I answered my friend that I think I have the best of both worlds. I absolutely love Thomas & Mercer as my publishers. They have done some wonderful promotions for my books, and I’m thrilled that they want to “strike while the iron is hot” and get the next book in the series out. I want that, too. But I do also love doing things my way. So, the next book I want to write will be number five in the Seychelle series and I will self-publish it. I had wanted to write that book a year and a half ago when I finished Dragon’s Triangle, but instead I flew off to Fiji and met this guy……..best decision I ever made. But now the time is here for a new Seychelle. I’m really looking forward to spending time with her again.
But I only have a draft of Knight’s Cross. I’m not finished yet.
Now, however, I do have a month before my editors will get the manuscript back to me, and we will start the editing. It so happens that this works perfectly with our plans. The end of the drafting mode signals the beginning of sailing mode as we are preparing to sail back down to Fiji. But the boat hasn’t made a passage since January of 2014, so there is lots of work to get done. We’d been in town to check the mail and to make sure I had good Internet to ship the manuscript off. Wayne has been making great headway at working through his very long TO DO list, as well as checking around seeing if he can find anyone who will sell us 400 gallons of diesel, We might be able to go onto the commercial dock, but word is that the fuel is pretty dirty there and has lots of water in it. Fortunately, Wayne has a fuel polishing system built into LEARNATIVITY. I got to go shopping for the first time in months, and I’m starting to do an inventory for provisioning.
Yesterday, we decided to come back out to Eneko for the weekend to clean the bottom. Wayne broke out our 12-volt compressor that runs two long hoses out to scuba regulators. It’s like a double hookah rig. By the time we got started, it was already late afternoon, so I just worked on the filthy black scum at the waterline, while Wayne worked on the bottom. It had been eight months of sitting in a warm lagoon since we’d last cleaned the bottom, so it was its very own eco-system. After a couple of hours we were both exhausted, but it felt to good to be getting exercise and doing something besides sitting in a chair in front of the computer. And after that I got to cook dinner. I never thought I would see myself write that, but I miss cooking when I don’t do it.
So, as I wrote THE END on one phase of my life, I am busy shifting gears and getting us and the boat into shape to make the long passage down to Fiji. I unboxed the Iridium Go yesterday and set up an account, and I’ll be posting a blog about that next week. Unfortunately, I need the Internet to post this blog this weekend, and out here at Eneko at the moment we’ve got squat. When we get to town, I’m determined to learn how to post blogs to WordPress via email.
We’ll soon be sailing again! I can’t wait.
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