19 October 2006

Eirik’s Boat

OK - so this is your typical pre-NaNo 'Oh, crap' moment:

So one of the characters - Eirik - has this boat. He and the main character are supposed to escape her execution on it. It's a special ship, probably been in the family for generations, handed down from father to son, yada,yada, yada...

In my mind, it's a Viking longship. Complete with dragon-headed prow.

So last evening, in a bid to constructively procrastinate instead of work on the outline for the story, I decide: I might as well do some reading up on longships just so's I know what the hell I'm talking about.

I mosey, ever so languidly, over to Wikipedia. Longship, I type. Here's a bit of what I find: lapstrake construction, fastened with iron rivets, oar-driven, center mast, prow carries a dragon carving.

So far, so good.

And then, the kicker: they were BIG. Most longships were 60 to 75 feet long or longer (bet that's why they called 'em ... oh, nevermind...). Not only that, they had crews of 60 or more big, burly men.

My brows draw together and my lips begin to purse. This is going to be a problem. Well, not so much a problem as a MAJOR PROBLEM. Mainly, this is going to be a problem because I do not have a crew of 60 or more big, burly men. In fact, I have no men of any sort.

Five kids. That's what I've got and I can't even count the two youngest, really, because one is 4 and the other isn't even a year old yet. So three kids: an 8-year-old girl and two 16-year-olds, one of which is also a girl. And these three kids, even with help from the bossy 4-year-old, are not going to be able to sail a ship that big. Not by a longshot, not even in a world where they could have 'magical' powers (which none of them do at that point in the story).

Oh. Crap.

I spend the next 10 or 20 minutes doing some rather frantic, panic-stricken research into other kinds of Viking ships. The only ones I can find that these kids might be able to handle is called a faering. Faerings are sort of small and canoe-like. And quite decidedly unfit for the stretch of open ocean my kids have to cross. Besides, I need a dragon-headed prow. And not just because they're cool and I like them - it's an important plot point (it is!).

I go to bed, dejected, depressed and really, really annoyed with the Vikings for having such big-ass ships. I figure I'll sleep on it. Maybe something will turn up in my dreams.

Morning. Nothing. Lots of dreams, not a single ship to be had.

I go about my day: feed baby, convince Ms. Four to wear clothes to school instead of her Cinderella costume, make lunch, deliver Ms. Four to school, feed baby, prep manuscript for submission, feed baby, etc, etc.

Finally, work-work done for the time being, I make myself sit down and work it out. This is exactly what I type:

OK, OK – it’s like a mini-longship. A longship-shaped ship that has a dragon headed prow and all that, plus a mast that can be stepped by a couple of reasonably strong people, even two 16-year-olds, say. And it has a sort of hold and a covered/sheltered sleeping area that’s barely big enough to fit the 5 of them. We could even call it a faering, if you like. A dragon-faering. Yeah, that might work…

*deep, satisfied sigh*

I love writing fantasy. If it doesn't exist, you get to make it up. Solves everything, real easy-like.


Leslie said...

If it's a small longship shouldn't you call it a shortship? Come on, it's fun to say and looks almost rude.

Okay, fine, dragon-faering is much more literary.

Bethanie said...


OK, The Husband now thinks I'm totally insane because I'm sitting here laughing tears at my computer screen...

For which I thank you, BTW. It's been quite a day with Ms. Baby. (Had dairy yesterday. Bad idea.)

Oh, great - and to top it off, my word verification looks like 'abtvvypfp', which is A) obnoxiously long and B) so contorted I can't tell if it's two 'v's or a 'w'... Crikey!

Yup - failed to post - the next one is 'xjznn'. In very large, onlny slightly contorted letters...