1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Mo' NaNoWriMo--How a Flood of Words Became a Trickle

I took on a challenge at the beginning of November (NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month), knowing full well that I could not (would not?) attain my goal. You see, I had promised myself and thousands of other writers all over the world, a veritable flood of them--as if they could possibly know or care--that I would write a novel consisting of not less than 50,000 words in 30 days. My mind simply will not allow me to write like that. I can't force the words to gush out and somehow assemble themselves into a story. It would be like expecting a cypress tree to reach for the sky without any roots or "knees" for support. I did manage to start writing my first novel, but it's going someplace I didn't expect, and I'm not sure that I like it. Who's the boss here, anyway? Me or the story? 

Sometimes I need to walk more than write, especially when the leaves turn color--yes, they do that even here in North Florida--and the trees at Torreya State Park whisper that winter is right around the corner. If you listen closely enough, there might even be a whisper or two from Miss Chaffa. Remember her from the last time I posted about Torreya? She might look a little scary peering out of glass-covered bookcases, but she used to live around here, and you can trust her judgment. Ya'll come on! It's cool enough now to walk in the woods, and them bugs are takin' theirselves a break. Okay, so I've also been reading more than I've been writing. Right now I'm on Chapter 6 of Carolyn Haines' Greedy Bones. So far, so good.

Let others tell the Paradox,
How eels now bellow in the ox;
How horses at their tails do kick,
Turned as they hang to leeches quick;
How boats can over bridges sail,
And fishes do the stables scale,
How salmons trespassing are found,
And pikes are taken in the pound.

But I, retiring from the flood,
Take sanctuary in the wood;
And, while it lasts, my self embark
In this yet green, yet growing ark;
Where the first Carpenter might best
Fit timber for his keel have pressed;
And where all creatures might have shares,
Although in armies, not in pairs.
--from Andrew Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," 1651--
There may not be a flood to be found at Torreya these days, but a trickle of spring water draws SAM down a steep path that I would rather not try. It looks like a bum buster, and I've broken my tailbone before. No thanks! I'll embark myself on paths with gradual declines. I fit right in with that milieu.
If there were a flood here, the swamp would welcome it with open arms. I'm thinking Miss Chaffa would too, with bony fingers beckoning.


  1. I get a chuckle out of your term 'bum buster'. I can just see that and ouch on the broken tailbone! I've read about that challenge but never heard of someone actually completing it. Oh well, there is always next year!

  2. Yes...bum busting is not a sport for the faint of heart unless like me you have plenty of cushion to absorb the blows.... really a novel in that short a time....Michelle

  3. Wow! That topography looks fun (compared to what we have in flat south Florida). Sounds like an interesting project. It's hard to stay focused on one such thing with so many irons in the fire, that's for sure.

  4. I've never heard of that challenge. I wouldn't do it, I'm afraid... I'm still trying to understand why something that sounds so good in my head looks about as appealing as a lump of mud on the page... oh well, there we are...

  5. What an exciting project! What's the most challenging part in carrying it through to the end?
    Your forest looks GREAT!! So beautiful and refreshing. Our autumn leaves are now falling.

  6. Beautiful pictures--I love the woods myself--where I live we have a serious problem with illegal hunters. And thanks for mentioning GREEDY BONES. I hope you have fun with the book. I don't get to read as much as I would like, and I miss it.

  7. Tina, it's definitely not as painful, physically anyway, to bust the bum on a writing project as it is to lose one's footing. Although, come to think of it, if I really had stayed on task and finished the darn thing, the old bum would have been just about as sore:)

    Michelle, the tailbone incident happened years ago. If I'd had as much cushion then as I do now, it probably wouldn't have been quite as painful. As for the 30-day challenge, at least it got me started on something. I guess I needed a little push.

    Mr. S, you need to come see it for yourself. It's pretty amazing. Yes, focus is the most elusive thing in photography--mine, anyway--as well as life. Our grandson must hear that term a lot in preschool. The other day he was watching his grandpa and me trying to accomplish a task together and admonished us to "focus, people, focus!"

    Claude, if you ever figure that out (the connection/disconnect between what's in the mind and what ends up being written), you will be rich and famous beyond compare. The challenge wasn't the problem. It was actually a good thing. My writing style was the fly in the ointment, the rock in the shoe, the hair in the soup...

    Sapphire, you should try the challenge next year if you've ever thought about writing a novel. The hardest part was just trying to crank it out, making myself sit for hours at a time and squeezing those words onto the computer screen. It was not as much fun as I thought it would be, but the best part was reading what published authors had to say about it. There were notes of encouragement in my inbox at least a couple of times a week. I'm glad I tried just for the pleasure of gathering those nuggets of experience.

  8. Sometimes I regret writing for a living, because I never have the passion to write things I want to write. On the other hand, it pays the bills, and last time I had something I had written from my own pleasure published it caused a bit of a shit storm, and the published asked quite nicely if I'd not bother sending him anything in future!

  9. Carolyn, hello! Thanks for stopping by to say hi. When I'm done reading the book, I'll probably write a review here, something I've only done once before. The last (first) one wasn't very complimentary to the author, but your novel is already more appealing, and I'm not even halfway through. After I'm finished with the book, I'll have to back up some and get to some of your other novels. I want to learn more about Jitty, "Dahlia House's resident haint."

    Dear IG, I would love to read whatever it is you wrote that caused such a maelstrom. Maybe you should look for a publisher in the States. Controversy is quite the draw here.

  10. Deadlines are good for writers, but 30 days is not long enough for a novel. Good writing involves contemplation and revision. The least amount of time I’ve taken for a first draft was 3 months, and then I spent months revising. You were wise to drop out and go at your own pace.

    Research has shown that exercise makes your brain work better. You must know that already, walk 2 write! Thanks for taking us along. The images are lovely.

  11. You may not have written a novel in 30 days, W2W, but you deserve credit for trying! I've read a few novels that I think might have been written in 30 days...the authors would have been wise to spend a little more time on them:)

    I broke or bruised my tailbone in college, sledding down a hill on a cafeteria tray--I couldn't sit for a week!

  12. A novel in 30 days? Oh, my goodness, that would be quite a fete. Especially when there is so much else to do, like take your friends on such a lovely walk. Perhaps you could write a story about resident specter of Torreya?

  13. It still hurts to do sit-ups, I broke my tb long ago, it is crooked now.

    Hope yours heals better than mine.

    Good luck with the writing.

    Always a pleasure to feast upon the words of your blog.

  14. Sarah, I'm fairly sure most of the writers who took up the NNWM challenge realized the futility of the project after about a week or two. I thought that the experience was a good test. Would the contestants be fit enough (motivated) to accept and submit themselves to the hard work and (often) frustration that writing a novel requires, especially if a deadline is in place? Of course, 30 days is unrealistic, but then so is the "contest" itself. No prizes are given out. No one actually reads the work submitted. The only thing that matters is the word count. Still, it's (the challenge and the subsequent slinking away) like a swift kick in the pants or an elbow in the ribs to get someone who is thinking about writing to actually start something. So I did. And I'll continue to do so as long as I can. I'm glad you liked the images. Yes, the walking definitely helps with the writing.

  15. Rose, I can't believe you were so uninhibited in college! Now I can see why there were cafeteria monitors at SIU. It wasn't to prevent food fights or keep the tables clean. They were worried about wild co-eds absconding with the trays. You're right about some novelists not taking enough time with their work. It's obvious when loose ends wind up mismatched or all of the dots laid out don't form a clear pattern. Makes you wonder how some of these authors ever got published in the first place. Thanks for giving me some credit. Think it'll help when I submit a manuscript?

    Karen, you must have been reading my mind. Miss Chaffa is quite a character to consider. I'll need to take some more hikes to gather material:)

    Oh, Rosey! How awful for you! I think mine healed okay, but I'm wondering if the impact had something to do with my disk problem a couple of years ago? It's under control now, thank goodness, but I'm extra careful about things now like where I walk. Thank you for the good wishes and kind words.

  16. Thank you so much for your kind remarks. Pat and I went to what was the circle campus or UICC. That was before dorms and expansion. it is nice to meet someone from down state. jim

  17. Hello and welcome, Jim! So you met your sweetheart in college too. SAM and I own a brick in downtown Paducah, Kentucky, that lets people know the birthplace of our relationship. One of these days, I'm going to revisit the downtown and take a pic of it for the blog. I'm so glad you stopped by, decided to leave a comment, and become a follower. Stay warm this winter!

  18. I have never understood this NaNoWriMo business.
    What a waste of energy with surely nothing to show for it at the end.

    November is not meant to look as it does in your pictures!

  19. I wrote a total of 42 words during NaNoWriMo. I loved your explanation as to why it's something you can't do. I am in total agreement. (But I did enjoy a couple of those email pep talks.)

  20. Friko, hello and thanks for dropping in. The NNWM wasn't a total waste of effort or time. It kickstarted my longstanding dream of writing a novel. Now whether I can keep the motor running for very long remains to be seen. I agree with you that November can look pretty bleak in most places, which is a big part of the reason we ended up moving to Florida seven years ago. We're not in the southern part, though. The northern part gets a little nippy from those arctic blasts that come our way. There's one coming tomorrow in fact. Brrr!

    Wow, TC! You should get a prize for the fewest words written for NNWM. They were probably carefully selected and lovingly arranged, though, I'd bet, knowing your poetic proclivity. The pep talks were great morale boosters. I may do it again next year just to read the new ones that are written. Fun stuff!

  21. Interesting. I think I could do it but it would be awful. Not just the grammar and spelling but no development of a worthwile idea. I tried to write a novel in high school (seriously). What a joke. I was into the Peloponessian wars and title it Lysander. It took me just a couple of weeks to decide you can't successfully write about something you don't know a lot about. So I gave it up till I recently discovered blogging. Or as my friends are wont to say... you're way to wordy Troutbirder. :)

  22. TB, maybe short stories, singly or in collections, will become more popular than novels. So many people now don't have the time or the attention span required to finish a novel. Blogs provide one solution to that postmodern dilemma. Amazon ought to consider selling short stories for people to download like I-tunes. Maybe they already have. I don't keep up with all the gizmos and gadgets, and I don't have a Kindle or an IPod. Anyway, the publishing world is changing like a chameleon right before our eyes. It has to keep up with changing trends or risk being left behind by a generation that's used to getting what it wants in an instant. Too wordy? Never! Somebody needs to keep language alive.