Monday, November 10, 2008


I am squeezing out my Nanowrimo words 100 at a time. Detail by tiny detail.

I did manage to eke out 1400 words this way while driving to and from a hike in Sunol Regional Wilderness.

We hiked the Indian Joe Creek trail to the Cave Rocks.

Evelyn and I have to have our hobbies so we don't feel idle while on a hike.

She ran ahead to work on boring holes in rocks with her pocket knife and I lagged behind to take photos.

Greta was trying to be in front for a while. She kept saying, "I'm the leader!" and trying to block her sisters with her stick. Eventually Ev, Clem and finally, even Mike got past her. Instead of crying she said, "I am the leader of the way back! And that means mom."

My macro lens forces me to look at little things with as much interest as big things.

I was on a hunt for pale green points and new mushrooms. I also particularly like seeds growing out of cow pies--that whole circle of life thing.

And tracks. And bones. I hit pay dirt with a very clear dog paw print in a cow pie with pale green points sticking up out of it.

Clem found a sheep knucklebone. She had learned earlier in the week how to use one to hold the top of stick in place when you are spinning the stick with a bow to start a fire.

Look how well it fits the hand and there is that indentation in the middle for the stick.

I brought along my notebook in case I was inspired to write 100 words on the trail.

I was. But not 100 words of my novel. I remembered the 100 Species Challenge. I thought we might be close to knowing 100 plant species that grow nearby already. Evelyn read Edible and Useful Plants of the West cover to cover and the kids have taken a lot of nature classes.

The other day in the car on the way to a class they were trying to name every plant as it passed. Eucalyptus, coyote brush, eucalyptus, madrone, coyote brush, redwood, coyote brush, oak.

So I took out a notebook and we began to write down the names of plants we could identify.

I love plant names, ever since I sang parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme as a kid. You don't even have to know what they are to enjoy the sound of their names.

Here is our list: Poison oak, blackberry, bay, sycamore, oak, mistletoe, huckleberry, coyote brush, stinging nettle, hemlock, miner's lettuce, manzanita, madrone, thistle, redwood, soaproot, duckweed, wood fern, sword fern, buckeye, sage, willow, cordgrass, hazel, snowberry, chinquapin, monkeyflower, gingko, pine, sourgrass, mexican bush sage, maple, magnolia, jacaranda, rosemary, wild cucumber, gumball, horsetail, bamboo, palm, cottonwood, aspen, birch, cattail, tule, oleander, holly, eucalyptus, california pepper, walnut, juniper, poppy, forget-me-not, mule ear, lambs ear, ivy, nasturtium, bougainvillea, camilia, yarrow, dandelions.

We didn't hit 100, and I didn't get enough 100 words done to hit my goal for the day. But I did hit a milestone. I cut and pasted my new material into the rough draft. I'm violating both the letter and the spirit of Nanowrimo this year by continuing the book I started last year.

Last year I was a winner.

I hit 50,000. There was a harrowing hour after I uploaded my text and discovered that the Nanowrimo website counted 49,650 and I had to pound out 350 more before the deadline, but I did it.

I've been working on the draft over the last year, except when I wasn't. And even though I've been falling short and not getting in enough 100 word chunks every day, yesterday I hit a milestone: one thousand 100s. In other words, 100,000 words.

So does the acorn grow into the oak.

An oak sorely in need of shaping and pruning. Next month I'll bring out the editing shears.


stefaneener said...

If you can put the same lyricism into your book, it's going to be lovely.

This just reads like poetry.

AM said...

"I am the leader of the way back!" OMG!

Who needs the formality of a "book"?! This blog is, like, nectar in words. LOL!

patricia said...

Beautiful post. Makes me want to do so many things. Go to Sunol, for one. I grew up near there, even had a birthday party there as a kid. Makes me want to get a camera in my hands and try to take such lovely close-ups of plants. Makes me want to simplify our 100-species-challenge as a list, as you have, so we can actually accomplish it.

Your post does not, however, make me want to try Nanowrimo. Your writing may be like an oak, but mine is more like a century plant. Very, very slow.

Thanks for all the inspiration!

S said...

Aside from friends, the proximity to Sunol is one of the things I really miss about living in Fremont. I adore my macro lens. I highly recommend one. The only problem is that you have to get very far away if you want to shoot, say, a whole person. But I happily pass on all the scenes for the more intimate portrait-and-detail shots I get with my macro lens.