Thursday, February 19, 2009

Doubling

My work-in-progress passed 80,000 words this morning. What in the world? It was just last month that it was half that length. I'm not so much telling the story as writing down the story that's telling itself. And I tend to write more than is necessary ... so that, six weeks after I seal the first draft into a box (cord, duct tape, closet shelf) I can descend on it with a long thin boning knife and remove the fat.

Flense.

So it has doubled in size in not quite two months. But it also feels like it's rounded a turn, and that even if the end is not quite in sight, I can at least envision the last push. The last third.

When captains brought their ships around a long point of land, hooking like a claw into the grey seas of high latitudes ("South of 40 there is no law; south of 50 there is no God") they referred to a successful rounding of the corner as "doubling." As in:

19th Oct 1796
Sighted Cabo de Hornos six bells forenoon watch. Wind fair SE b E backing to ENE by two bells. Offwatch set to work chipping ice from rigging and deck. Stood off tho' kept land within sight. Doubled Cabo de Hornos by five bells graveyard watch; turned north. Extra ration grog for all hands. Sighted ice mountain three bells, steered due S, wind increasing with nightfall.

When you doubled a point of land, you crossed the "horizontal" (on a map) latitude line that marked the beginning of the peninsula. And I have finally doubled my story, in both senses.

6 comments:

Babs said...

Me thinks the extra ration of grog got them through thar icy conditions, Heave to!

S R Wood said...

Noooo! Heaving to makes the boat stop! Although, looking at it, it does imply a sort of rough velocity. At any rate, hooray for grog!

Peter S said...

Odd. I posted a comment past week and it's gone. Testing?

S R Wood said...

I think Blogger was having hiccups -- I had to reload several times last night to get this entry to come up on the main page. Why Internet not perfect? Hulk angry. Hulk crush!

Peter S said...

Dat's okay. My comment was that I WISH editing was like flensing. A little slice and cut and the fillet is perfect. In my case, I'm going in with tongs and a Bowie knife, cutting through viscera until I get to the good stuff buried under all the fat, rot, and useless stuff like the appendix. Editing is messy--you need shoulder-high gauntlets or you're not doing it right!

S R Wood said...

Wait a second, you think flensing is delicate and precise? The word only sounds like that, the operation itself (from what I can see on Internet) appears violent, imprecise, and exhausting. Hey, I just described editing.