I’d like to start by saying a big thank you to everyone who I have been involved with so far. So many friends and family members from all over the country have come forward to wish me luck with my venture, and to offer their help and advice. They say it’s not what you know, but who you know – and I feel very lucky to know so many warm and open people who are willing to offer a helping hand. The same goes for everyone who has supported me on all the social media outlets – it means a lot, so thank you.
With the first snowfall of the season blanketing the UK overnight, I have resigned myself to a day indoors. The homemade veggie lasagne and garlic bread is warming up in the oven, and it only seems right that I should post my first progress update.
This week I have been busy setting up my website and getting the word out about my upcoming work. It’s funny, when I decided I would write a book, I didn’t realise how much would need to be done after I finished it. And that’s where I’m at now – the real road to becoming published begins here.
So, I have completed my first book, it is called Albatross. It was an incredibly challenging and interesting journey from the moment I sat down to type the opening sentence, to having a full, 72,000-word novel 10 months later. In that time, I have learnt many things about my own writing style, and what it takes to become a professional author. As a result, I feel that Albatross is not the ideal piece to publish first. That is not to say that it is not worthy of being published, but I really feel that I want to put my best work forward first. It is for these reasons that I have decided to begin writing my second novel straight away, and it is my aim to release Booths as my debut.
However, I am still incredibly proud of Albatross. It could be that I choose to publish it somewhere down the line. For now, though, I will leave you all with a short excerpt from it, as I feel it ties in nicely with the current weather conditions. So put the kettle on, get cosy, and take a trip to the Antarctic wilderness…
Feel free to comment and share, but most of all – please enjoy!
I climbed through the hatch to find that we had arrived in another world. We were surrounded in all directions by icebergs – so numerous that the Academia’s engines had been slowed to avoid them, meaning we had been idling silently through a maze of ice for several hours. It was a glorious day. The sun was bright, the air cool, and to inhale the stuff was to drink an invigorating nectar. As I gazed off toward the stirless horizon, I saw how it was somehow warped into an ethereal haze.
I moved to the railing to gain a better view and was met with a grand panorama of icebergs, pristine and floating like chess pieces atop polished glass. The unerring stillness seemed to slow time itself, and the motionless, blue waters cast the reflection of each form with such transcendent beauty that my mouth was left agape. It truly was a palace of wonders.
Dotted here and there were ice floes hovering like lilies. Upon them were laid families of seal – the adults lounged in the sunlight, and the chubby calves frolicked together. On another, a lone seal lumbered to the water’s edge and slid in, sending ripples outward. Beyond, a series of small, elongated shapes appeared and disappeared at regular intervals. The penguins leapt into the air to snatch a breath before diving below to speed like darts through the water. A dozen or more weaved gracefully across the divine pond, and the sound they made as they entered and exited the water was so minute that I could detect it as little more than a faint twinkling of water droplets.
As I stood observing the scene, I was met with a sudden realisation that the supposed barren ice-lands were in fact teeming with life.
There were birds all around – I counted three types of petrel, and spotted a single, snow-white tern carving the chilly air with its slender wings. A peculiar sound came to my ear – the distant exhalation of a slumbering giant perhaps, and the spray of water. To my delight, I identified it as a pod of humpbacks gliding along, the sunlight glistening on their backs as they breached. They took turns to expel water from their blowholes, and spouts six or seven feet tall shot intermittently into the air, before diffusing in the mist. One by one they arched – exposing the sickle-like curve of their dorsal fins – and dove deep, with a flick of their wide and mottled flukes. As the sun continued to climb the sky, we entered a wide channel flanked by islets of rock and snow.
With the ship only able to move at a snail’s pace, all attention was diverted to navigating between obstacles, meaning that the crew could enjoy an unanticipated afternoon of down-time. At intervals, the men emerged from below to marvel at the surroundings, and eventually Harry and Juan joined me on deck.
‘Thought you’d given up the ghost!’ Harry said, smacking me on the back. Juan laughed as Tully’s prickly beard appeared just over his shoulder. He was wearing considerably more than I was, and it was only then that I noticed how incredibly cold I had become.
‘For Christ’s sake man, you’ll catch your death out here,’ he said with wide eyes. ‘Take these.’
Tully offered a pair of gloves and a thick wool coat with a tall collar. My hands were numb and useless but somehow I pulled them on, and within a minute or two my colour returned.
‘Try this too,’ he said, holding out a cigarette.
I had never smoked before, but did not dare refuse an officer. He felt around in his pocket for a match as I placed the end in my mouth. He cupped a hand around the flame as he lit the tip, and I took my first drag. It was a little coarse on the throat, but I felt quite manly all the same and proceeded to thank him.
‘Good God, what a place!’ Tammie said, looking at the hunks of rock and ice towering around us. He breathed in deeply and exhaled through his mouth as he indulgently rubbed the sides of his belly.
We all agreed how refreshing it was to be there, and the crew wandered about the deck, clinging to their coats, and absorbing the surroundings. Some exchanged a few astonished words about the seals, or the mist, or the blueness of the snow.
Soon, the exhaustion ebbed from our bodies and we shook off the bleak events of the previous night. We were past the worst of it, and Rye encouraged us by remarking that the surrounding islets would provide cover if another storm were to hit. Talk soon turned to the next big step of the journey – arriving on the southern continent.
Where would you find yourself if you travel anywhere in the world? Reply below!
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