Thursday, June 19, 2008

That sinking feeling

One of the hugely pleasurable side effects of writing is the need to research.

You may have visions of writers spending hours poring over boring documents, feverishly writing notes, fueled on by copious amounts of coffee (unless you're in a library where liquids, pens and any such dangerous implements are banned) but the fact is most of the time it's fascinating. In fact too fascinating as its very easy to get sidetracked and before you know it, bam, two hours have gone by and you've done nothing that's going to help with the novel, but have enriched your life.

Novel number three has a maritime element to it and as a result I have had a fabulous time reliving some of my childhood passions. I have always loved boats and maps. Not modern boats, (well, OK, maybe them too) - I mean the old wooden varieties, with sails and rigging. When I was a kid among the many things I used to make was model ships out of cardboard - sailing ships. I made the Golden Hind and the Cutty Sark, and drew innumerable maps.

You can imagine my glee at having an excuse to revisit all things nautical.

The Otago Museum has always had a fabulous maritime gallery. It's a compulsory trip with the boys on our frequent trips and a must see for any visitors to Dunedin. I discovered another delight when researching this book, and that is the Port Chalmers Museum. It's tiny, and crammed with all manner of maritime memorabilia and the kind of place you can happily lose a few hours. It also comes with a delightful crew of volunteers who are incredibly knowledgeable.

Of course, there is the black hole of time that is the internet. If you are into old maps and charts you have to check this website out. It's, sigh, wonderful - David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

It boasts over 17000 maps on line - Yep, you could spend days here.

So I find myself with another distraction from writing and the urge to make antiqued maps again. And, I've never made the Endeavour...


Pamela Gordon said...

Hi Vanda,
love your blog!
Did you know about the new exhibition currently on the third floor of the Dunedin Public Library, in the Reed gallery? It's called "Charting the Peaceful Sea: Maps of the Pacific 1642-1846". Sounds like it might be serendipitous timing for you.
Cheers, P

Vanda Symon said...

Hi Pamela,

I haven't managed to get near it yet, courtesy of the family taking turns at staying home sick. Soon, I hope, soon.

Pamela Gordon said...

The exhibition is on until the end of August. And isn't the internet a wondrous thing for housebound people? And a source of distraction from pressing duty too!
I suppose you are already familiar with Wellington's wonderful Museum of City and Sea? So atmospheric, so well done.I love to go there when I'm in Welly. Last time I was there they said they wish more NZers would visit - they have lots of tourists coming through, but not so many locals.