Two years ago I figured I should put into book form the adventures I experienced some 40 years ago as information officer photographer with the New Zealand Antarctic Research Programme.
This was something I had swept into the broom cupboard of life experiences a long time back but as my grandchildren grew and my wife and daughters continued with their promptings “to put it on paper” I reached the point where I at least dragged the boxes of stuff out from under the stairs.
I looked through the clippings, found my old notebook, and looked at a few mouldy photo slides, Maybe there was something in all this I could tell the grandchildren about. Around this time a couple of my fellow intrepid explorers from the great adventure of 1968-69 came up with the idea we might have a reunion.
All well and good, I thought. They were all in New Zealand while I was firmly established with a business and family in the prairie province of Alberta, Canada. Still, I thought it was a great idea and almost flippantly suggested we could time this event to the 40th anniversary of our small team taking on the responsibility of a year’s scientific activity with the Antarctic Division of New Zealand’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (now just known simply as Antarctica New Zealand, but still a government entity). This boiled down to the fact that we had less than 12 months to find all our colleagues and organize an event in Christchurch, New Zealand, in mid-October 2008.
While all this was happening with the aid of modern technology, I set about putting together a booklet just about the voyage aboard HMNZS Endeavour eight of us summer only types had from McMurdo to Lyttelton. That very stormy voyage home via Campbell Island and the Antipodes Islands was an adventure in itself and creating a booklet around that proved to be a great deal of fun. My family and friends loved it. I printed off a bunch “for the reunion”.
We were very fortunate, due to some extraordinary digging, to locate and contact all the members of our party as well as a large number of the university teams and support people who made our time on the ice most memorable. And being together over three days, most of us seeing each other for the first time since 1969, gave me the push I needed to write my book.
It started out as just a summer’s tale of adventure, with a whole bunch of pictures. But as I got into it and shared the story with others, the book took on a life of its own. I now labor on, researching, recalling events, time and places, and bugging the life out of my old colleagues for long forgotten details. I’d targeted this past October as the due date for completion. That has passed and it will not be completed before Christmas. Perhaps I can complete it this winter with an April publication date. I’ll work to that deadline and see what can happen.
Last May I shared a couple of chapters with fellow writers and faculty at a Writing It Real (www.writingitreal.com) conference and received huge amounts of encouragement, advice and direction. We have another conference coming up in April 2010 in Port Townsend, WA.
I wonder what I’ll be able to put on the table this time!
(a continuing story…)