Seventy-nine days to go and I am lucubrating like crazy. It seems I’ve been lucubrating for most of my life, yet until a few minutes ago, I had no idea. Oh, how I love discovering new words, particularly words that capture the essence of an action or a process, that other, mere everyday words, can’t.
Lucubration: 1. intense and prolonged study or meditation; 2. the product of such study, often writings. It comes from the Latin lucubro, ‘to work by articifical light’.
For almost fifteen years I have been thinking about, studying, and writing about the sea. The focus of my anthropological research has been the sea – the cultural, social and symbolic role of the sea, embodied marine knowledge, human interactions with and conceptualisations of marine animals.
With sailing off into the sunset looming on the horizon, I was keen to finish a book I have been working on for almost a decade. I have stopped and started this book so many times, and in 2011 I thought I had finally given up on it. Such epic procrastination is inexcusable. But in October 2013, having decided that I couldn’t set sail without completing this book, I dusted off my notes and half-completed chapters, to give it one more chance. I found a publisher, and set to work, writing early in the mornings and at weekends, squeezing 100 words here and 500 words there into my days. 75,000 words later and I am days away from completion.
The process of lucubration has got me drifting metaphorically on the sea, philosophising on the sea and on what the sea means to the people of Arviat in Nunavut. And in the process, it’s got me thinking about what the sea means to me, about my knowledge of the sea, about my abilities to sail and take care of Carina, about my abilities to fish and forage at sea and on the seashore. It’s got me thinking about what the next writing project will be (although, hopefully, that won’t take ten years to complete).
Of course, once the manuscript leaves my hands and flies off to the publisher and reviewers, worrying about whether they like it or not will probably keep me awake at night. But the joy of finishing a project – particularly one that has been hanging over me for so many years – will be manifested in lightness and giddiness (and probably a great desire to go to sleep for a few days!). And once the book has left my hands I can get on with thinking about Carina, and planning our move aboard in April.
Less procrastination; more lucubration.