Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Things not to do

I could fill up the internets with my own personal list, but today's lesson is this: don't completely rewrite your work after a publisher has already agreed to publish it. It bothers your editors, who are very good people (and at least one them reads this blog) and will eventually earn you a reputation for being difficult. Which really isn't as interesting as you might think. As a once-editor myself, trust me, difficult artists are not more passionate or more interesting than others, they just get off on being willful, like two-year-olds.

And for complete transparency, here is basically the manuscript they first agreed to and prefer.

Oh, and in case there is any doubt, I rolled over. My revision will just live in my heart!

This contains some storyboard based suggestions, but you're all smart people. You'll get it.


Kenichi, the brave, Kenichi, the adventurer, but first, Kenichi, the little boy, sat perched like a bird along Osaka harbor. Sailors filled Osaka Bay with little sailboats, and all the boys liked to watch them. But no one watched as closely as Kenichi Horie.
The wind took the boats far from shore until Kenichi could see only the white dots of their sails. Before the day grew dark, all the white dots came closer and turned into boats again.
Kenichi wondered why.
Why come home when
the wind blows forever
across an ocean that never ends?

Kenichi's journey began with that question. Kenichi began to transform. He studied the living map of the stars. He learned the names of clouds. His hands became practiced with needle and thread.
During the day, Kenichi sailed with men and older boys. They teased him and worked him until his bones ached, but Kenichi never complained. At night, Kenichi drew sailboats, studied them, and then threw the drawings away.
One day, after Kenichi had learned all he could, he visited the shipwright in secret.
“Build this,” he said, “but tell no one.”
Kenichi visited the shipwright every day after that. Planks were slowly sanded and slowly bent. Wooden mallets slowly drove in wooden pegs. The workers moved so slowly!
“Stop yelling at my workers,” said the shipwright, “your boat will be ready tomorrow.”
Finally, the boat Kenichi dreamed was real. It floated proudly before him. He named it: The Mermaid.

[Two page Mermaid?]

Kenichi slung a fifty pound bag of rice over his shoulder. He squeezed rolled maps of the ocean floor and the sky under his arm. He put thirty jars of jam, a radio, and some books into a box and carried it all toward the Mermaid. He pulled eighteen gallons of water behind him in a wagon as he walked alone down the deserted streets to the harbor. Shadows filled Osaka Bay.He boarded the Mermaid, untied it, and sailed into black Osaka Bay. Only the little old woman who sold rice balls to the sailors saw him go. From Japan to America. From Osaka to San Francisco. From one edge of the Pacific Ocean to the other, because
the wind blows forever
across an ocean that never ends.

[Two page departure?]

But the ocean is a monster, and is home to monsters. Innocently the Mermaid floated, small as an eyelash, across its uncaring surface. The first monster came on cloud feet: the Typhoon!
The ocean scoured the sky. The wind drove its fists into the sea. In between, Kenichi was lost. Helpless. Alone. The typhoon fought the sea for fourteen days before it became bored and went away.

The ocean and the sky were bright and new and calm, but Kenichi could not see them. He sat huddled in a shadow. He had been so scared, but there were no arms to hold him, no eyes to warm him, no voice but his own. He cried out: Kodoku-- the cry of loneliness. Then Kenichi breathed evenly. He mended the little things the typhoon had broken. A porthole. The sail. His courage.

Swarms of fish followed Kenichi as he sailed. He bent his arm to the water, waited, then snatched the little fish from the sea. The good days tasted like fish.

Sometimes, in the enormity of life, we find friends we will never see again.
Kenichi met a pod of whales sunning themselves lazily in the wide soft ocean. When the wind told him that it was time to leave, he was full of sadness..

[The world grew bigger each day.] --Can be cut in favor of a two page spread.

The ocean hides great hunters. As the fish liked to follow Kenichi, Sharks liked to follow the fish. When the sharks came to feed, they slammed against the side of the Mermaid. Kenichi hid, trembling, until they were full, until he was sure they had left.

Ships are floating cities propelled across the ocean by enormous engines. They carry thousands of people. They weigh a million pounds. As the Mermaid passed through a ship's shadow, Kenichi waved at hundreds of people on deck. Then he sailed on, alone, with only the wind to help him.

Kenichi forgot about land. He forgot about everything but the never ending ocean, the wind that goes forever. Once the ocean was full of man-of-war, jellyfish like creatures that use the wind to sail. Kenichi forgot he was not one of them.

San Francisco carved a hole in the night with its lights. This was the end of his journey. Had he won? Was the ocean defeated? San Francisco Bay is filled with rocks. Biting his lips, Kenichi dropped anchor and waited until morning.

As the sun rose over North America, Kenichi sailed into San Francisco Bay. His soul was as big as a bridge. He stepped on shore and kissed the comforting earth. He burst with joy. But somewhere inside him, he heard, like the beating of a drum, the words:
The wind goes on forever
across an ocean that never ends.

1 comment:

Bryan Allen said...

Ah, Kenichi. He is indeed a worthy subject for a whole set of lyrical tales. Best of luck with this project, and with upcoming projects as well.