Last week we spent a few days on Nantucket. One morning, my son buzzed off on a solo bicycle expedition while my wife and daughter went shopping. So I found a sandy point overlooking the harbor and the town dock to spend some time doing one of my favorite activities: scribbling with my fountain pen in my notebook. Here’s what I wrote, slightly edited:

A light easterly breeze ruffles the water on the mooring field I’m facing, keeping me somewhat cool in spite of the unadulterated sunshine pouring forth from a pool-blue sky showing a single line of puffy clouds along the horizon. I’ve taken off my hiking shoes and now I wriggle my toes in the cool sand in the shade cast by the picnic table. Catching my eye as it crosses the water beyond the docks is a catboat with a royal blue sail, and beyond it, behind larger yawls and ketches and sloops and motorboats, I see another catboat about the size and make of Piper, the boat Luke and his father sail in Seaborn. I had this harbor in mind when I wrote the scene when they arrive in their first anchorage.  I can picture them now, out on that catboat, groping their way within themselves along a course they’re unsure of.

That wasn’t all I wrote while I sat facing the harbor, but what strikes me about it now is how fluid the boundaries between imagination, memory, and reality are. I sat looking at a real harbor with real sunshine burning down on me. I could envision products of my imagination as real people aboard one of the boats. And one of the reasons I imagined them in the first place was the past when I had visited the harbor before, once mooring there with my family during a dank gale. So in a sense I was a time traveling ghost even as I sat there, only my hand moving across the page. I lived in three dimensions at once.

Later, when my wife asked me what I’d been doing, I said, “Oh, just looking at the boats.” 

By the way, on July 15 Kirkus gave Seaborn excellent marks overall.