I remind myself of my intent to explore the youtube angle further and holed up in my own little room at the writer’s retreat, I pull out my DIY equipment: a thick sketch book, four pencils H2, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, and a set of 24 color pencils which will turn out to be superfluous and which I’ll end up passing on to my daughter. It gives me great satisfaction to be handling something physical which is not a book. Then I go to youtube and search for ‘how to draw your own map’ and immediately settle for the tutorial called ‘how to draw your own fantasy map’ by a man called WASD20. It comes in five parts beginning with tips for how to create a trustworthy landmass, proceeding with where to place mountain ranges, where water bodies such as rivers and lakes are likely to appear on a map, where you might find the forests in such a landscape as you have created, and finally where cities and towns are likely to be placed. For the next two nights, this becomes my post-work treat.
Something funny happens. I enjoy building the world up from the bottom but I feel a strange reluctance to populate it. I hesitate before putting in towns and villages. The nomenclature itself takes me more time than all the rest combined. It takes away the feeling of potentiality I felt when I was at the stage of erecting mountains and foresting my world. Now it is no longer a world for me to explore but a place where people live. It belongs to the people who lives in The Wynd, Argus Port or Rock Haven and I must again resign to the role of observer and describer of their culture and lives. That is the beauty of Mars. Since there is noone there, I have as much of a claim to it as anyone else. And once Elon Musk gets there I can always resort to the Jovian moons.