In elementary school we saw a film about a man on a boat. For the longest time I couldn’t remember anything about the film except the guy was stuck in the horse latitudes, and there was a wacky animated sequence where he envisioned the world as a donut (wacky animated sequences were popular at the time—remember that bizarre scene in Santa Claus is Coming to Town where Jessica apparently drops acid in the town square? How about the boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?). That was about all I could remember of the film, except that I was also pretty sure the name of the film was The Horse Latitudes.
Turns out I was right. The Horse Latitudes was a 1975 TV film about a real-life guy--Phillip Stockton--who entered a race against 8 other men, each attempting to become the first to circumnavigate the globe in a single-person craft. Stockton decided to cheat: he plunked himself in the middle of the Horse Latitudes and sent fictional reports back of passing The Cape of this and the Straits of that, apparently inspiring Rosie Ruiz to try the same approach in the Boston Marathon in 1980. I’m not sure why they showed us this film; I don’t remember the context at all, unless it was to warn us of the dangers of taking shortcuts and cheating. Stockton’s boat was found drifting in the ocean; he wasn’t. He presumably went mad and decided to take a long swim.
What does this have to do with anything? I’m stuck in the Horse Latitudes, and I guess I’m not alone. Lisa Regan is having a hard time. Jennifer is having a hard time. All over Absolute Write, writers are having a hard time. Lisa did an interview with her book, and found it to be a rather argumentative sort. If I interviewed mine, what would it tell me? By Friday last week, I was almost ready to tell IT, “Fuck off.” I was thinking. “Maybe I should just leave it as is, finish tightening up through the end, and ship it out to some readers. Let them tell me what’s wrong. Or even IF it’s wrong.”
That would be the easy way out: turn it over to someone else and see if maybe that will help. Maybe there’s nothing wrong; maybe it’s just my inner critic getting overly-nitpicky, or the doubter trying to sabotage what is perfectly fine. Wow, I’m having doubts about my doubts! There’s a reason I’m stuck, and it’s because there’s something that isn’t just exactly right. And so I circle around and around the problem, like hawks riding a thermal, and I hope to hell I get it just exactly right soon, because I’m getting tired of it, and the dog gets nervous when I start shouting to the empty room.
Anyway, that’s where we all seem to be right now. Stuck in a becalmed sea, except that there is nothing calming about it. In that vein, here's an lovely piece of 'music' that's rather appropriate (WARNING: Not for the squeamish. Also, It takes about ten seconds to become audible: DON'T turn it up!):
But I’m trying to be positive. I’ve been working steadily, because I believe in my story, and because I’m still hoping I can shop it to agents by the end of the year. I feel like some progress is being made, though I still haven’t had one of those glorious Eureka! moments in ages, where it all just comes together so beautifully. Maybe today. Let’s hope so. And so, in an effort to be positive, here's a much more pleasant-sounding song of the sea. Have a good week.
Man, those boys could sing.