Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Houston? We're Reading You Loud and Clear!

Today's the midpoint of my writing retreat. Because I've settled so easily into new habits and routines here it's hard to believe that it won't go on forever. On my way home this morning from my walk, I realized I felt as though the daily walk on the beach was something I'd be doing for the rest of my life! The thought took me aback, because it made me realize I had only a week and a half left of my life here.

Since Tom came this afternoon from Seattle, to bring my laptop-- healed through the application of harsh, drastic medicine and then restored through his efforts-- I took my walk in the morning. I lef the house just as the tide was scheduled to turn; on the assumption that the beach would be completely exposed, I walked south. Here's an excerpt from the notes I jotted:

10:20 a.m. Took a really hot shower and put on my wool socks and came out to walk on the beach. Low tide today, according to Tom, should have been at 9:30. I was on the beach at about 9:40. This must be one of those low tides that isn't actually very low. The tide's clearly coming in-- moving south-- but I realized very quickly, walking along the beach south, that vis-a-vis the usual obstacles littering the beach, the water line is actually rather high. (Could Tom have gotten the day wrong, when he looked at the table?)

But it's a morning of crisp clarity, the air itself almost dazzling, though we're at low altitude here. The first thing I noticed when I stepped out into the cold sunlight was frost on the roofs of the nearby cabins and buildings: and then, as I walked through the park, I saw that any grass that hadn't yet been touched by sun was frosty (and all the rest of the grass was wet) and that a puddle still in shade had crusted over with ice sometime in the night. All the mountains are out again today. The Olympics are the sharpest (though they can't be seen from the beach, since the bluff is blocking that line of sight). Again, Baker dominates the view, stunning in its mass of snow, a soveriegn with his court arrayed across the horizon. Rainier, which though often like a fairy castle hanging in the sky above Seattle is always pulls one's gaze when it's out, is too distant to be a challenge to Baker's power here: looking out over the water, which neither sees nor cares about its majesty.

An insidious metaphor, that. And certainly misleading. The sea feels more powerful to me, complex and oceanic (so to speak), full of more diverse forms of life and ecosystems than can be found on land. But the sea's power isn't that of a sovereign (which seems puny, by comparison). Sure, the Greeks invented Poseidon, but I've never felt Poseidon bears any relation to my own sense of the sea's power. In actual fact, whenever storms whip up the sea, it's usually because of what's happening in the sky. The sea's real power is in its life and its massive, amniotic volume. (I am fighting metaphorizing it as a womb: but I'm finding resistance strangely tough-going!) Though Baker from time to time erupts, its individual eruptions will never threaten the sea, only make its force all the more towering. (Signs with directions for tsunami evacuation routes are posted in numerous places along the beach...) But it's artificial to see the sea and mountains as independent of one another. (Peter Ward's astrobiology lecture in Seattle last month made that clear.)

This isn't the first time I've found myself recalling bits from two in particular of the astrobiology lectures I attended this fall (Peter Ward's and Jody Deming's). As a result, I'm eager to do some follow-up reading. I've no doubt that my pleasure in walks like these can only be amplified by all that I'm dying to learn (though not while I'm working on this novel).

Getting cold, sitting here. The log is actually damp, which I didn't much notice until it started seeping into my jeans. Need to start walking again.


When Tom arrived, he brought a printout of the tide table, and it turns out that he did indeed give me the correct time for high tide. But looking at the table, I discovered that all the daylight low tides at this time of year (the few that there will be during my stay here) are all fairly high. All the lowest tides seem to be happening after dark (or before light, depending on how you look at it).

I've written several posts since I last had internet access. I'll probably be putting them up soon. The solitude has been wonderful for my work, but I have to admit I'm glad to be back in (limited) contact with y'all.


X. Trapnel said...

The retreat sounds lovely. Best of luck with the remainder of your stay.

I've been wondering: are there any plans for an ebook storefront? I ask because, well, I'm in Germany for a year, and trying to avoid adding to my already overstuffed luggage. But on a less selfish note, it strikes me that selling Aqueduct titles in PDF or ePub format might help expand access to folks who aren't easily reached by your current distribution network.

Perhaps it might even be profitable to *give* away PDF/epub copies of 'Alanya to Alanya'--I suspect you'd gain far more from increased sales of the rest of the cycle than you'd lose from folks who would otherwise have bought the physical book!

At any rate, I'm sorry to bring up such grubby considerations when you're on your retreat! Thanks again for putting out such great books.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Dear X.T.,

It's lovely to hear you're eager for new Aqueduct titles. Thanks for your interest and support!

Aqueduct does have plans to sell ebooks. The main problem is that all three of us have all that we can do to keep up with the Aqueduct work we have now, that we're having a hard time making time to implement them.

I'm sure you're right about offering free pdfs of Alanya. Actually, we might be able to do that before we get the full ebook operation going. I'll really try to push us all to get on this after I get back to my desk. (Or rather, after I get back to my desk & clear away all the stuff that's been piling up while I've been away from it...)