Well, now I'm confused; I thought I was wrong, but now I think I wasn't. In other words, I was wrong when I thought I was mistaken. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was right.
Here's what happened:
Way back in 1972, when I was just a tiny little baby and a senior in college (I was a very smart tiny little baby), we read Matthew Arnold's super-romantic poem, "The Forsaken Merman". It's from the point of view of a merman who allowed his human wife to leave him with the kids while she went back topside for Easter service. When she didn't come back, he brought the children up to look for her, but they found her in church, unwilling or unable to hear them crying for her. At the time of the narration, she wasn't expected to come back to the sea.
We went up the beach, by the sandy down
Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-walled town;
Through the narrow paved streets, where all was still,
To the little gray church on the windy hill....
We climbed on the graves, on the stones worn with rains,
And we gazed up the aisle through the small leaded panes.
Now, I ask you, does that or does that not sound as if the merman and merchildren were navigating on land? I think it sounds as if they're navigating on land. But I was told NOOO-OOO, that's metaphorical, that is.
But before that happened, I made a note in the margin, and here it is:
Write story with merman lower body like a fluked eel's body can move out of water like a snake.
And I did.
EEL'S REVERENCE will be re-issued by Echelon Press in July of 2010. It features humans and "mermayds" in conflict and partnership. Mermayds can produce sperm or eggs which they broadcast or deposit like fish. They have (wait for it) lower bodies like fluked eel's bodies and can move out of water like snakes. The story begins when a young mermayd robs an old woman who is also a priest, feels sorry about it and buys her food and shelter, then gets exiled into the desert with her by priests who don't want her around.
I just have one more thing to say on the subject:
Ha ha on whoever told me I was wrong.