Well, trying at least. Look, grammar and spelling are my two pet hates in the world- I try to get things down on paper so fast with my imagination racing at a mile a minute that it leaves ample time to see if everything actually reads well. But I love writing, and I’ve always loved writing stories, scripts, poems or whatever takes my fancy. I’ve been working on a new idea for quite some time now, spending a lot of time both planning it (something I’m also notoriously bad at) and creating the world and setting that has both continuity and life outside of the story.
So, what I figure is posting the first part of my story here, as well as the rest of the story as I write it. It’s only a first draft, but I figure I’ll update it as I go on my blog so that I can keep track of it better myself. Since the story is presented a bit like a diary, I figure it works on the blog quite well. I don’t want to let on anything about the wider plot, but what I’m presenting is essentially the character of Jamie, his journey and an accompanying history of an Island. Give me feedback! I want to know what I’m doing wrong!
Esther’s Isle is a 55 tonne, 18 meter fishing boat. Of wooden construction, she was built in 1951 and was originally called The Emerald Isle. She was swamped of the coast of Eriskay during hurricane like conditions in January 1968 with the loss of her entire crew, and was found on the rocks of Garbh Sgeir three weeks later. She was repaired, re-engined and rechristened The Stornoway Maid and operated as a fishing boat out of Lewis for several decades. In 1971, she was rented along with several other vessels by the Scottish government to transport the inhabitants and of the island and their possessions to the mainland. She was later bought by a group of islanders for the use of ferrying goods and people to and from the island as the last of the inhabitants left. She has made fewer and fewer trips over the years, the last being in 2003 where she was hired by William Coogan for his famous and tragically ill-fated trip. She is usually beached in Port Nis Harbour, Port of Ness.
– Porter, J, A History of Brackenisle (2014)
It was the snapping he couldn’t handle. There were numerous sounds the ancient fishing boat made as it lumbered through each wave and surge, it seemed the Atlantic was desperate to reclaim this vessel for a second time, battering at the hull with roars and creaks and thuds. Despite this, the old boat pushed forward, the hateful winds swirling around her from waterline to mast. Each crash and crunch she made was uniquely unnerving and ominous-
But that snapping! What was that? It can’t be wood, he thought through the haze in his brain. If the wood was snapping around us we’d have sunk long ago. No, the snapping was something else. He forced open his eyes, his vision swimming around in front of him. From his bedridden position, the cabin was horizontal, periodically lurching as the boat rose into some kind of horrible weightless freefall before hitting the waves again.
He couldn’t keep his curiosity in check any longer. He had to get up and find out what that was. He slid off his raised bunk, but his pathetic jump to the deck unfortunately coincided with one of the ship’s falls from the crest of yet another wave and Jamie crumpled to the deck, his legs giving out, his stomach being pulled in 2 different directions. He lay there for a few minutes, regaining his strength, his eyes forced shut. His mouth was dry and disgusting, his head was swimming. His ears felt blocked, as if he’d been swimming and had water trapped in them.
Jamie didn’t get seasick. He was proud of that, very proud. When he was a child, he remembered being the only one in his class unaffected by travel sickness, one of the few who saw the roundabout as fun, rather than some kind of torture device for people who had just eaten lunch. Jamie had nott taken up a life at sea like his father and grandfathers before him, but he had their sea legs, and he liked that.
He pulled himself up and lay against the cold, curved bulkhead. He flopped his head to the left, quick check to see if he’d thrown up in his bunk. He hadn’t. He flopped his head to the right, the cool paint of the bulkhead comforting him. Jamie didn’t get seasick, but he certainly couldn’t hold his drink.
That was one skill he pretended he had. Fooled himself into thinking, but he was the only person convinced by his lie he realised now. The bottle of Famous Grouse he had brought and shared last night were probably having a much easier time in the stomachs of the crew. He had at least slunk out of the galley before they noticed how drunk he was getting, or at least he hoped. Spying his phone beside one of his boots and feebly fumbled at any of the buttons on the keypad. The boat lurched in an entirely new and horrible direction.
5:07. He’d slept about five hours. He pulled the boot over to him, grabbing the lace and dragging it closer, and limply pulled it over his sock. He noticed the other Doc Martin was still, thankfully, attached to his foot. Filled with resolve, the resolve to at least appear sober and figure out what was making the noises outside, he stood up. The ship did a small bounce, a crack as the keel hit the wave trough as if it was solid ground. Jamie threw up.