29 September 2012

Black Sea Stone

As I was unpacking I found a beautiful stone from the Black Sea. I honestly don’t know how it got there (I’m rehearsing in case the customs guys show up at door), but I guess I inadvertently smuggled it out Batumi in the Republic of Georgia. I do remember swimming in the Black Sea — a delicious experience, except for confronting a large jellyfish about the size of a dinner plate.

Back to my rock. There is a legend, I am told, about these Black Sea rocks. If you do take one from Georgia, supposedly it brings you three years of good luck. (The legend doesn’t say what happens in Year Four) This is unlike what happens to people who take volcanic rocks from Hawaii. In that case, the Goddess Pele wrecks terrible revenge upon the rock theives — pets and relatives die, marriages break up, they get arrested — so bad that Hawaiian post offices are filled with packages containing returned rocks.

Actually, I made up that Georgian legend. But I hope it’s true.

I had a sobering talk with my agent, Jessica, on the subject of my writing career. She characterized my latest effort, a novel about terrorists and human traffickers in Central and South Asia as “a fish with feathers”. Incurable optimist that I am, I exclaimed ‘Yeah! A flying fish!’ Like one of those elegant creatures that skimmed the water just ahead of the prow of the cabin cruiser I took when I had a consulting gig in the Maldive Islands designing a project for artisanal tuna fishermen, many years back. The other part of that trip I remember well was watching a school of tuna flying over the bow of the ship, and one albacore in particular, who seemed to look at me, wide-eyed, just a foot from my face, fleeing a hunting pack of dolphins.

No. What she meant was, it didn’t fit into any of the recognizable categories publishers are used to like ‘international thriller’ or ‘espionage’, and therefore she couldn’t sell it. Sure, we might find a small publisher, like ‘Flying Fish Press”, but the risk we ran was that, as a debut novel, if it didn’t sell well, it would be a career ender.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

How well I know that drawing board.

Rupert Scofield


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