What Are You Looking For?

Monday, January 22, 2018

What I See When I Look At This Map

I drew this next to the Imperial Beach Pier in the summer of 2005, a year and a half after starting Book One of Melody and the Pier to Forever. I sat in the shade of the patio of the coffee shop there, and took out my colored pencils, and went to work. It took me all summer to complete.

Does it look amateurish, even silly? I suppose it does. I didn't have an illustrator. I didn't have a publisher. I still don't.

Even so, I am very proud of this map. Because what I see when I look at it is love, pure and simple, and the absolute devotion to the story and its characters, and the untrammeled commitment to see the project through, even knowing it would take, literally, decades to complete. That's what I see.

I have dreamt of many of the far-flung places shown on it, from the frozen, impassable reaches of the Fronterum Spur of the Wolfsnake (upper right, near the Eternitam), to the pastoral Jovoo Concur (the tiny group of islands in the lower left, near the Great Edge), to the mysterious Sankyan Wilderness, which, shown here, is pretty much by itself in the middle of the Senecum Ocean, lower right. I have gazed upon the vast, barren stretches of the Gyss (at the bottom) to the frightening Bay of Whoops, upper left, where unwary ships face the unspeakable horror of being pulled over the Edge of the world.

I've dreamt all this, and more, much more, and then woken to more 30-day notices to pay my back rent or get out, or a perpetually empty wallet, or yet another "friend" who was determined to talk some sense into me. I spent nearly a decade in Imperial Beach almost totally alone. Looking back on it, I'm grateful for that isolation. It woke me up, finally and irrevocably, to people. It woke me up to their values and morals. It woke me to their shallowness and utter, unthinking, bovine commitment to go along and get along. It left scars, to be sure, some that will never heal, and it battered me, and sometimes it crushed me. But when Kye finally came and we escaped San Diego, Melody and the Pier to Forever was still with me. I hadn't abandoned her. And she hadn't abandoned me.

That's what I see when I look at this map.


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