Yes, I have begun the next Kennet Forbes mystery.
Between the conception and the birth is the gestation. I planted the seed several months ago, and it has been developing . . . very . . . very . . . slowly.
I knew the action would begin on the Labour Day weekend, this year. Labour Day came and went – with just the barest stirring in my cranial womb. Oh, I knew the grand outline of the plot, the main characters, the setting . . . but the devil’s in the details, eh?
I needed to connect a few more dots, and our canoe trip on the Kapikotongwa River helped. My son Rob conceived of the trip – he wanted to scout the route that a local canoe club planned to travel next June. No one had been through it for ten years or so. Since then a forest fire had swept the area, and a snowdown* felled many trees. The portages would require major labour. We (including friend Dave) were going to get a jump on the work this fall.
On the third day, Rob, the chainsaw man, used most of his gas on a long port. The next port we couldn’t even locate, the burn having regenerated to young jack pine only inches apart. It was raining, we were soaked, we were cold, and we had no hope of cutting several more ports on that stretch of river, assuming we could even locate them.
So we turned back. We ran into headwinds, dropping temperatures, and more rain. Before we quite froze or expired from exhaustion, we holed up in an empty cabin that someone had generously left unlocked.
We woke up to the season’s first snowfall. We headed out into the storm; the headwind drove us backwards. Another night in the cabin.
We rose well before daylight, too nervous to eat. At first light we paddled off . . . and paddled . . . and paddled. We encountered only occasional winds. After three hours we stopped for snacks. Another two hours and we stopped to make a warming fire. It was damn cold, but the intermittent showers had stopped.
Another two hours and we reached the road and the truck we had left there. Another three-and-a-half hour drive to get home.
Well, it’s always fun in retrospect. During such trips, we do enjoy ourselves – the scenery, the wildlife, the constant adaptation to challenges which multiply as the trip progresses, the companionship, and, of course, the occasional moments of comfort and good food.
We must enjoy it, or we’d be lunatics.
On a canoe trip, we live differently: we live in the moment. Our previously routine lives, our problems. fade; if we’re really lucky, they disappear altogether.
And, if we tire of the moment, then we escape into dreams. I worked out several knotty problems in my novel that way.
Two weeks after the trip, I started a writing routine for the novel. Birth date? Sometime in 2012.
I also discovered something about my writing process: I cannot write, it seems, until I find a title for my work.
The Geraldton Northbound is my title.
Oh. About The Batoche Crossing? Still gestating.
Yes, it’s alive. Very much alive. I can feel it kicking. It’s in my mind constantly.
It will be a boy. Or a damn fine girl.
*snowdown: After a heavy snowfall and a thaw, the crowns of trees are laden with wet snow, and a strong wind snaps off the trunks several metres from the ground.