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03 December 2007 @ 09:23 am
obsessive compulsive mapmaking disorder  
So since there are many foreign countries visited and discussed in my novel (and--dare I say it--any possible sequels), I felt like it would be a good idea to make a map if only for my own reference. I had made detailed world maps for at least two D&D campaigns ages ago and enjoyed myself both times.

Now the geography of my novel is based on kingdoms in ancient India that are mentioned in the Hindu epics (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and the travels of Siddhartha, but projected into a future where they have mostly remained independent nations. Immediately, I run into problems: (1) nobody really knows where these borders were, (2) even if we did, the borders were constantly shifting, and (3) some of these kingdoms were in the same place as each other because they existed at different times. These facts could have been liberating and for a while they even were.

I made a map with the countries I wanted and it was nice. At first it was just the nations from the Ramayana, but this weekend I decided I needed the others too, which was a huge pain, because the Mahabharata mentions like twenty additional kingdoms. I couldn't put them all in, but I put in the important ones. Then I put the cities in. Then I decided that I didn't like the look of the lines, and I started obsessively sculping them to make them pretty. And then I said, hey, why not put in the rivers?

Oh, how I wish I hadn't tried to put in the rivers.

Rivers change everything. Especially holy rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna. Suddenly I needed tons of research to find out which kingdoms the important rivers ran through. Then I needed to start moving borders around and stretching out countries so that they could connect with the right rivers. And fairly quickly, it became an unpretty mess.

Also while investigating all that, I found better references as to where these kingdoms were and when I overlayed those over my map, they were hugely off. Like "quit while you've still got your sanity and forget you even tried" off. But no. I started rearranging my map to try and make it look like the new references. And it quickly became so ugly and messy that I realized I really either had to give up, go back to the last clean version, or, if I wanted to be really obsessive, start over from scratch.

I started over from scratch. Why? I don't know. Maybe it matters. Or maybe I just needed to beat the problem. Or maybe I'm just doing anything I can to delay the actual writing of sentences. I'm genuinely not sure.

The new map is coming along. The lines are all pretty from the get-go. Thanks to the layering features in Photoshop (which makes it super easy to compare my map to the source material), the rivers and countries are more or less where they should be. And hopefully I'll only need one or two more late nights to get it finished.

Of course, now some of my plotting is out the window, because countries aren't located where I need them to be, but that can be fixed. I just need to readjust my mindset to the new map and rethink the details.

Current Mood: 235
Listening to: Lincoln - "Unhappy"
Pallaspallasathene8 on December 4th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
Do we get to read a little snippet for Christmas? Doesn't that sound like a good idea? :P
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: serious monkeyassmonkeydiary on December 4th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
Hehe.... if I have anything suitably snippety. Would you settle for a map?
orcaarroworcaarrow on December 4th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
Congratulations! Good luck with the map making.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: Ape vs. Jet Girlassmonkeydiary on December 4th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, man.
Joe Camelpoppinfresh666 on December 4th, 2007 05:46 am (UTC)
The reason you're frustrated and disoriented; The earth and rivers move beneath your very feet.

There are two problems you might be running into when trying to make your map of India agree with history.

First, the Himalayas are a growing mountain chain. Plate tectonics is ramming India (which used to be a large island south of Asia) into the Asian continent like an awkward teenage coital attempt. This is wrinkling both continents up, forming the Himalayas, which are still growing today.

Anyhow, that could displace a lot of kingdoms relative to each other over time. Even simpler, new passage ways open up or close off.

Secondly, the path of a river changes dramatically over time. Unless the river flows in a V-shaped canyon, a river changes its course, flooding, draining, all naturally over time. So you're trying to make a moving squiggly line stand still as you look at it through time.

Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: blue bottleassmonkeydiary on December 4th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC)
That's good, because I had to slightly displace almost all of the kingdoms around the Ganges just to give them a little breathing room. Thanks.