Map Making as a Metaphor for Literature

We begin on another journey. Another day; another desire to write. Another piece unplanned, for the plans are too great. Where will this take us? The same place we’ve always been? Are we circling the block again? Has the navigator lost his sense of direction? A real vacation takes a lot of time and effort. A long distance. How about we just drive around the block again? Do we notice anything different? Or are we comforted by the repetition? There’s a folder full of maps. But who needs a map? Who needs a plan? The plans are too great. Let’s drive around town. Have I traveled down this road before? Or have I spent my whole life with the street in my peripheral, but never going down it? Have I lost my mind? Who wants to ride with me?

There already exist maps of the whole world. I can read whichever one of them I want. But what if I wish to be a mapmaker? I can’t copy other maps directly. But they are more accurate and thorough than my own. Why can’t I desire to be something else besides a goddamned mapmaker? I don’t even have a sense of direction. How trustworthy am I, anyway? I can’t sell maps. I barely read any. What makes me think I can do what has already been done, but better, and as a tabula rasa? I know the basics: north. South. East. West. But what about elevation? What about the roads? The rivers? The landmarks already discovered?; already pictographed on maps? Why not choose a different craft?

Let’s not go anywhere today. Let’s stay at home. Let the fat waste us away. Sure, it’s stupid. But traveling is work. And scary. The isolation: what if I get lost? Go down a wrong path? But what is my destination? That’s the greatest problem of them all. Wishing to make maps without a destination in mind. Or is that a blessing? What about reading maps of countries not yet traveled? What map should I read first? What aspects of the map should I study first as someone who desires to make maps? I can’t read all of the maps. But I desire to create my own direction. But this is fucking hard.

Let’s just go to the backyard today. There’s South Carolina. Tennessee. Virginia. Texas. California. Wyoming. Spain. Turkey. Russia. Alaska. Why oh why do I want to make maps…

I’ll tell you what: let’s make bad maps. Let’s just make rough sketches. For fun. Why not? Sure, everyone else will be reading the detailed maps. But they should. If I’m going to make maps, why not start off small? Amateurish? If I want to make maps for a long time, I’ll get better somehow, right? When, and how? I haven’t finished creating the map yet, so I’m not sure yet. But at least I’ve written about making maps, even if I haven’t made one. That’s a start.

Write.

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