An update. After almost two years I’m midway through the third draft of the novel. It’s been testing to say the least. One friend said it’s to be expected, that I’m sharpening my pencil. Learning to be a better writer. It makes sense. I’m enjoying the training and refinement in not just packaging ideas, but also learning to spot and kill the bad ones faster.
I start each morning at 5.30am. I do an Indian wake-up where I wrench myself out of bed the moment the alarm goes off. I think I called it Indian as a kid because it reminded me of the stories I heard about Native Americans training themselves to wake up and instantly go into battle. I don’t see the point in lingering in the snooze zone. I suspect one day I will. I’ll consider it a day to look forward to.
I make a coffee and put my feet up on the living room couch with darkness all around and the cat on my stomach and I work on the novel for an hour. From there the day can go to shit and I’m happy because I got done what I needed. I barely think about the task itself. Each session is nothing more than a distant dreamy recollection of the last. It’s like, I turn my brain on for the first time in 8 hours and I ask it a lot of hard questions, and I suck up all the answers I can get for an hour, but then I let it go. I don’t think about it all day. Not until I pick up where I left off the previous morning. Trusting only the quality of the content in front of me. Not my recollection of its quality.
The hectic year
It’s been a hectic year. As well as writing this thing, my fiance and I are preparing for our wedding in december, and we’re in the process of purchasing a rural block to start a mushroom farm and airbnb accommodation. A place surrounded by big trees where we can take our feet off the pedals and enjoy a slower less crazed life. Somewhere out of sync with the rat race where we can run by our own clock. Somewhere I have time to write and grow mushrooms and together we have time to build things and cook together and sleep in.
That’s the plan. Until then we’re hustling. We’re working challenging jobs, driving from one rural property to the next, battling council, organising the wedding and trying to make time for one another. It’s a lot when you have animals too. And friends and family. Add to that the novel and I get called stupid. Their advice is to slow down and not worry so much about having to write everyday, but I know if I didn’t it would fall to the wayside and that can’t happen. I don’t have a reasonable answer to give you why that can’t happen. It just can’t. It being difficult is a good enough reason. I think perseverance is a quality all too easily given up in this modern world. We do our best to avoid challenge and ultimately we struggle because of it. Because we don’t have the purpose challenge provides us, nor the gratitude it can grant us. Lean into the curve. We have to. When we lean away we feel useless and we begin to decay.
Anyway, I’m writing to announce the tentative title of the novel. I say tentative because everything changes in a project of this size, but big markers like these play an integral role in keeping a project focused. Much the same way that the mood board I created for each part of the novel has helped me keep a world alive in my head.
Pictured: A slide from the mood board
A change of narrator
Before introducing the title another change worth mentioning is a change of narrator. The novel is now told from the perspective of The Storyteller. He is one of the Viracocha. The Viracocha are a technically evolved people living in Ankor Watai. They have an advanced understanding of starwatching, stonemasonry, shipbuilding, navigation and mathematics.
The Storyteller is sent to Nazcai after a sunstorm erupts causing an enormous solar flare to be shot toward at earth. As well as dosing the atmosphere with toxic radiation the power of the impact throws the earth out of balance, triggering a succession of cataclysmic earthquakes, floods and fires. The Storyteller’s mission is to convince the people of Peru to help his people build a structure that he claims is capable of bringing things back into balance. He has four seasons before the stonemasons arrive.
During his time in Lake Titicacai The Storyteller meets The Hunter (read more about The Hunter). When The Hunters says he saw a piece of star hit north during the sunstorm The Storyteller becomes convinced that he can use the boy’s journey north as a way to win over the natives. Which brings me to the title of the novel.
The Artery of Earth
The title is The Artery of Earth. The artery of earth is a band that encompasses the earth and runs through three significant sites: Egyptai, Nazcai and Angkor Watai. The Viracocha believe by building a structure the length of this band they can get in sync with the stars and restabilise the earth.
A passage from the novel
The following is a passage from the novel told from the perspective of The Storyteller. This occurs shortly after The Storyteller and The Hunter have met.
“Here it is” The Captain said making his way over to the table carrying an enormous stack of papyrus sheets. The Brewer scowled at The Hunter with his back to The Captain then waddled back over to where he was sitting. The arc’s wooden slats groaned as he straddled the bench and dropped onto the seat that immediately creaked and bowed. The Captain sat opposite The Hunter across a long wooden table that was made from one piece of timber that still had the original rough edges of the cork exterior. The entire thing was four men long and one man wide and soaked in a clear resin. The Hunter poked curiously at the concealed nodules in the wood. The Captain took a sip from his mug and pushed both vessels aside before splashing the maps across the table.
At the top of the map were three circles sketched side by side. There were ink blotches perfectly drawn on each of the spheres. “You’ll have to use your imagination here” The Captain said looking at the sketchwork. The Hunter studied the circles closely. “Imagine you were sitting on the moon looking at earth” The Captain said. “These are three different images you would see at different times over the course of a sundown”. The Hunter pointed to a line that ran through the centre of all four circles. “What’s this line?” he said. The Captain smiled. “That is the artery of earth. See that dot?” he said pointing to the first circle. The dot was placed on the line around half the way across the span of the circle. It was right on the edge of one of the ink patches. “That is Nazcai” The Captain said. “The black ink is land and the rest is ocean”. He pointed to the next circle along. “As the earth spins you next see Egyptai from the throne of the moon. It too is on the artery of earth”.
“Egyptai?” The Hunter said. “Yes, the home of the great cat. Soon to be accompanied by the great pyramid. Egyptai is the heart of the artery of the earth. He pointed to the next circle along. When the earth spins more you can see Angkor Watai here. This is my home”. The Hunter pointed to a spiral sketching beneath the four circles. “What’s the snail?” he said. There were three dots on a line that passed through the centre of the sketching. One dot was on the edge of the shells open outer horn. The next was near the centre where the shell coiled into itself and the last was on the opposite outer edge where the shell curved inward. He recognised the coil from the design of the hull of the arc. “That is the golden ratio” The Captain said his cheeks crinkling beneath his big smile. “It’s a ratio of 1.618”. He pulled up the map revealing several additional sheets of papyrus. He sifted through the sheets inspecting each carefully until he found a sketch of a rectangle with a series of smaller rectangles inside of it.
He pulled the map to the top of the heap. “It works like this. Draw a rectangle one distance wide and 1.618 distance long. It can be at any scale. Now draw another rectangle to the same proportions, but make it fit inside the first rectangle. Also make sure the short side of your new shape runs along the long side of your first shape. In other words, make sure the rectangle is standing up if the previous was lying down. Continue this pattern adding one inside the other three more times and you get a sketch that looks like this”. He pointed to the cubed sketch then took a thin strip of charcoal and completed the drawing producing a perfect snails shell by connecting each of the outer intersecting points.
He scrunched his eyes excitedly. The caps in his eyes swirled in the flickering flames of the nearby torchlight. “It is a spiral that appears repeatedly in nature. In not just a snail’s shell, but a mammoth’s tusk, a tree’s branches and a sunflower. It is the pattern of creation – birth, life, being. It is a pattern that magically appears when something is required to grow in perfect balance. It is the pattern that allows a creature — whether snail or pinecone or butterfly — to grow as quickly as possible without falling to one side”. He smiled and leaned in closer to The Hunter. “It appears naturally in swirling whirlpools, spinning hurricanes and spiralling galaxies too. It is a whisper from the voice of the cosmos itself. A universal law of nature. A building block from which we can begin to understand and measure the parameters of life itself”. He sat back happy with himself. Then he narrowed his voice and his gaze. “It even appears in the natural beauty of a woman’s face. We all see true beauty when a woman’s temple to her eyes and her eyes to her chin match the golden ratio. It is a quintessential element in all beauty. Balance”.
He nodded at The Hunter then paused. He picked up the two mugs and handed one to The Hunter. The Hunter took the mug cautiously half afraid to offend the man and half afraid of the brew itself. The Captain took a big slurp from his mug and scrunched his brow and leaned in. “The golden ratio is the secret to our survival. The Architect says using it we can bring balance back to our earth”. He thumped the mug down and hastily rifled through the stack of maps until he had the first one on top again. He pointed to the first circle intersected by the artery of earth. “You see the reason we picked Nazcai to settle is because its distance to Egyptai and our home of Ankor Watai is equal to the golden ratio. In other words, the distance from Nazcai to Egyptai multiplied by 1.618 — the golden ratio — equals the distance from Nazcai to Angkor Watai”. He pointed to the snail’s shell. “You see that first dot on the outer edge that is Angkor Watai. That is where I come from. Our men of knowledge have a pyramid there which interacts with the stars. He pointed to the opposite outer edge of the shell. “On the other side is Egyptai — the home of the great cat”. Then he pointed to the dot near the centre of the shell. “This is Nazcai where we are currently docked. These sites mark the golden ratio, or the snail as you call it, across the artery of earth. The builds here and in Angkor Watai will be an extension of the three pyramids of Egyptai”.
The Captain thumbed through the stack of papyrus sheets again until he found a sheet with three square pyramids seen from above. There was a big pyramid, a medium-sized pyramid and a small pyramid. The Captain poked the drawing twice with his pointer finger and looked at The Hunter. “You see in Egyptai The Architect is building the golden ratio into the pyramids themselves”. He picked up the charcoal and using the flat edge of one of the other maps he drew a rectangle one distance high and 1.618 distance long starting at the centre of the largest pyramid. The length of the underside passed directly through the centre of the medium-sized pyramid. Beneath he drew another rectangle small enough to fit inside the first. He positioned the shape so its base intersected the length of the first shape. The rectangle perfectly connected the centre of the medium-sized pyramid with the centre of the smallest pyramid.
He traced the rectangles with his pointer finger. “You see even the three pyramids in Egyptai will be in the shape of the golden ratio. The other sites here in Nazcai and back home in Angkor Watai will simply emulate this pattern on a scale that spans the earth”. “What is it all for?” The Hunter said. The Captain raised his eyebrows playfully then leaned in a little and whispered. “It is a machine for taking us to the grid”.