Under the sea, tra-la. My mermaid worldbuilding for book three of Ysabel the Summoner takes me, yes, under the sea. I’ve discovered bioluminiscent fish and jellies, giant clams and blue-eyed scallops. Today I found these wonderful little creatures. Seadragons are related to seahorses and grow up to 18 inches long. The leaf-like protrusions provide camouflage by making them look floating seaweed.
The Weedy Seadragon, aka, a “weedie”.
Its more exotic cousin, a Leafy Seadragon.
Another view of a leafie.
Best camouflage ever.
Book Two of the Ysabel the Summoner series is in the capable hands of my editor. On to book three. In this third book, my girl Ysabel is under the sea with the mermaids, recovering from a terribly injury.
Bioluminiscent fish and jellies light up her underwater world. Strange creatures abound.
Scallops! With blue eyes! The eyes are functional; they track movement and light. If the scallop loses an eye, another grows in its place.
Up close, they look like blueberries.
Giant clams, yikes! They grow up to 4 feet across and have an average lifespan of 100 years in the wild. Before I started researching, I only knew them from comics and the covers of cheesy paperbacks, showing a clam closed tight around the leg of an unfortunate diver.
It’s a myth, though. Giant clams are not fast moving; a diver would have to hang around for a long time with his leg jammed between the clam shells waiting for the two halves to sloooowly close.
I love research.
Raising children, working a job, having relationships, when do we find time to write?
A good way to start is to write a mere 15 minutes a day. Those 15 minutes soon will fly by and you won’t want to stop. You’ll feel anxious and irritated when your normal life interrupts your reverie, but that’s ok, because it’ll impel you to find more time to write.
And then there’s where to write. We need a safe and quiet place. I’ve written in my car during my lunch break, on the city bus (where I’ve seen every one of my characters), during meetings, which is a great opportunity to capture people looking anxious, haggard, or bored, and best of all, in the generally empty government periodicals room in the library.
The main thing is to make daily writing as important as anything else we do in our lives.
My next book of Ysabel the Summoner is set deep underwater in the realm of mermaids. Their dark world is lit by bioluminescent creatures.
The jellyfish can be gorgeous:
This is a siphonophore, a colony of hundreds of jellies living along a central core. The fireworks display are the toxic, bioluminiscent tentacles used to lure and snare prey.
Abralia veranyl looks like an art deco brooch.
There also are scary creatures with gigantic eyes and fanged mouths, opened wide to suck in any passing prey.
And its friend, the Pacific viperfish.
It’s raining heavily this morning. The gutters are overflowing and it sounds like I’m living under a waterfall. I feel hammered by the rain. I can’t focus, my current story feels overworked, and I’m tired of my characters.
I’m experiencing letdown after sending out query letters for Queen of Incense. Five days later, I’ve received one very polite rejection email, but the rest is silence.
I have to keep writing, perseverance is the bulwark against the ennui and depression that follows the completion of a long project.
In his book, a Place in the Country, W.G. Sebold writes about “…the awful tenacity of those who devote their lives to writing.”
But, here’s the payoff: “…the hapless writers trapped in their web of words sometimes succeed in opening up vistas of such beauty and intensity as life itself is scarcely able to provide.”
I slog, I plod, I push my novels uphill, and sometimes I reach a peak where the story flows around me with unforced grace and clarity. Those moments are the reward that turn the struggle into achievement.
I read a recent Esquire interview with Michael Keaton and was struck by his comment on being authentic, of his efforts to create something original:
“Over the years, I think, people—actors, writers, whatever—lose their frame of reference. Their frame of reference is based on somebody else who did this or did that. Performances. So it just becomes a reflection of what already works. Like a warm-up. And that’s an invitation to be inauthentic. Everything becomes, you know, the work of somebody who did that before. Then somebody becomes a version of a version of a version…I always wanted to be the version. You know, the thing.”
We’ve been to:
Florence, Gaston, Forest Grove, Yamhill
Vernonia, Damascus, Gresham, West Linn,
Hillsboro, Yachats, Aurora, North Plains,
Sisters, Milwaukie, Cottage Grove, Lebanon,
Oregon City, Canby, Corbett, Redmond.
We’ve been everywhere. It’s about time to slip on a pair of red shoes, click my heels and proclaim there’s no place like home.