I find it kind of funny how completely fascinating a subject becomes once I've decided to make it part of a book.
Back in 11th grade I did a brief report on Herman Melville, and after seeing him described as one of the best writers who ever lived I determined to read Moby-Dick “some day.” Every few years I would pick it up, read a chapter or so, and then never continue. It isn't exactly an easy book to get lost in.
But recently, owing entirely to the subject matter of my current WIP (tentatively titled The Never Silent), I've decided to read Moby-Dick for real. It was written only four years after The Never Silent takes place, and, like TNS, it involves a voyage on sea. So far I've read 100 pages, and I'm actually enjoying it this time.
In particular I've marked a few quotes that really struck me. Here's one, only a few pages into the book:
“meditation and water are wedded forever”
One of the things that makes great quotes so great for me is that I know immediately what the person is talking about. Perhaps for some people the above quote doesn't mean as much, but for me it immediately transports me back eight years and several thousand miles to a beach in northern Wales.
I was there for a weekend during the summer with a small group of other students. We were about to leave for Cambridge later in the day, but that morning we had some time and chose to spend it along the rocky gray beach. The place was deserted but for us, despite the city (Rhyl) being decently large, though I suppose the early hour and overcast sky made it less appealing.
A long beam of wood jutted out from the shore—a sort of pier perhaps, though it was hardly a foot thick. I walked out along it as far as I could go and stood looking at the sea.
I'm not entirely sure I could describe what I felt. Or perhaps The Never Silent is my attempt to convey that feeling of weighty nostalgia that consumed me there on the edge of the sea. It was almost as if the lonely gray water carried all the memories of all the world, and if only I listened closely enough I would gain something by them.
So when I read that quote in Moby-Dick, I felt all those memories once again crashing against the shore, and I remembered what the ocean means to me. It's a wild, unkempt place, and, at least for the duration of The Never Silent, it's the most fascinating place on earth.