Thursday, July 17, 2008

The End of the Boat

Most boats have two ends, a pointy end and a not-pointy end. This week I'm building the not-pointy end, or transom. The transom is where the rudder attaches, and the boat's name is written, and what people will see when I'm sailing away from them, ha ha!

It's exciting because until now I've been building the frames (sometimes and incorrectly called "ribs") of the boat, which define it's broad-bellied shape in cross-section but which won't really be visible in the completed boat. The transom is different, though. That vaguely oval shape of pale marine plywood, dark with pencil lines and notes ("PORT AFT UP") will actually be in a real boat someday!

It's always a surprise when a stack of lumber transforms from a long woodworking project into an actual boat. And when I prop the unfinished transom up to see how it looks, somehow I can envision the curving shape of the finished boat. It's not easy holding that ghost-shape in my mind when I bend back to the minutiae of cutting and drilling and scraping. But it's good to be reminded of what this is all for.

Can I resist a writing metaphor?

No I certainly cannot. It's like writing a rough draft with the finished story held in your mind. I don't mean the words and chapters and scenes, but the meaning of it all. How I want people to feel while they're reading it. What it's all for, in other words.

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