Friday, February 12, 2016

Missing Maps and Getting Lost in Fictional Worlds

My map is missing.
I've looked. I've gone through my desk, looked inside books, pulled out loose papers.
And it's not a simple thing to replace, because it was the extant copy.

Years ago, for a NaNoWriMo project, I wrote an adventure novel called "The Life and Many Deaths of Sir Hobbleton of Piffle."  It's a whimsical story about a knight who is cursed to die a thousand deaths. It's the death of a coward described by Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. The only way to break the curse is to live and die in the most heroic way possible; self-sacrifice.
It's a tricky thing for a coward to practice sacrifice.
Tricky indeed.
Sir Hobbleton takes place in a mythical land I dreamed up, but I didn't have a full idea of it's complete geography. I also didn't have a full idea of the story, because I came to an end well before the fifty-thousand word limit required for NaNo novels.
I was done. I was spent.
And I didn't know where else to go with the novel.

Enter my daughter Hope, who might have been eight or nine at the time. She listened to me read parts of the story out loud, and I told her I was dedicating this novel to her as a birthday present. At some point early on, I casually asked Hope to draw a map of Piffle that I might include in the story.  When the day came that I was unable to find another way of padding my word count, (I already tried giving one character a three-word name) Hope presented the map to me, her eyes brightly lit with imagination.
It was remarkable.
It wasn't just the map. She also gave me a full explanation of the territories and myths associated with each little burg and village.
It gave me the additional information I needed to complete my word count, since I now had an Appendix of locations, and the stories behind them.
The geographic dynamics of a new world lay open before me, a world that fit not only into my hand,but now made sense in my mind.
I loved that map.
It was one of the most cherished gifts I've ever received.

And now it's gone.

I've looked for it on many occasions through the years. I've ripped through stacks of folders, flipped through binders, and proceed to create disarray in the middle of my office floor. The result is always the same: I'm surrounded by newly found clutter, and very dissapointed that I didn't find the map.
I think I folded it up and put it in a book for safe keeping, and that particular book may have inadvertently ended up in a garage sale, or in a donation box.
It saddens me greatly.

There were other stories on that map, other fanciful places, and so much left to be discovered.
It's like losing a wedding ring, or your birth certificate.
Come to think of it, that map was the birth certificate for Sir Hobbleton's world.

If you happen to have picked up a book from a garage sale in Humble Texas, or bought a used book at Goodwill, or Half-Priced Books, and inside you found a folded map, colored with pencils and crayons, and scribbled out on several sections of printer paper, maybe you can take a picture and send it too me.
It would be so wonderful to find it again.

I really want to edit and have Sir Hobbleton ready for publication before Hope graduates from High School. Several birthdays have already come and gone. She's a junior this year, with only three months to go, and if I know anything for certain, it's that her senior year will be gone in a heartbeat.

I suppose I can finish editing the story, and it'll be a great way of returning the gift to her, but I've really had trouble getting back into the Land of Piffle.  It's like I need a guide.
A direction.
A map.

When you're lost, and can't find your way in a strange land, what better way is there of navigating through bogs of uncertainty, and avenues of procrastination, than a wonderful, carefully folded, full-color map?
Maybe I should look for it again.

Just one more time.


Dorlana Vann said...

It was really great to see this post from HFC pop up in my email. :) But I'm really sorry you lost the map - I know how inspirational and helpful kids can be when it come to writing - However, I also know you can finish writing the story without it. Now get to work :)

Gary Denton said...

Ouch! But thank you for the support!