Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Further evidence of my insanity

National Novel Writing MonthI should be finished the major revisions on my novel, In a Dry and Weary Land, by the middle of this month, so what better use would I have for my time than starting on a new one? With a big bang.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, helped give me a little nudge three years ago, and a big boot in the butt two years ago. Without it, I doubt I ever would have become serious about writing. I also learned, the hard way, that I write much better with some planning and a good general idea of where I'm going. I've made friends going to the organized write-ins, which we decided to continue year-round.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo started ten years ago. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel over the month of November. Prior research, plotting, outlining, all are allowed, but you can't start work on the actual writing until November 1st. If you do manage to crank out 50,000 words (they have a little upload program that will count your words), you win. All you win is bragging rights and perhaps a real sense of accomplishment. They have badges and widgets and participant profiles and forums and local events - a lot of pleasant kerfuffle. They also raise funds to sponsor libraries in the Third World. If you're interested in participating and/or donating, check out their website. A little good, clean insanity never hurt anybody.

I have never "won", but that doesn't matter. I have profited from my involvement, because I learned to write daily and to hold myself to it. Two years ago I was ecstatic to produce 36,000 words, about a third of what my novel would eventually become. This year I hope to get a good substantial start on the next one.

Wish me luck!

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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

No good deed goes unpunished

I got to experience it firsthand this spring. I stepped out into my tiny fenced-in back yard, which triggered a frantic rustling in the flower beds. And what to my wondering eye should appear...

Fledgling crow hiding in the garden
This young crow had fallen from the nest in the tree overhanging my yard and couldn't get out. It appeared to be fully fledged to my non-expert eyes, but was unable to get aloft. When I watched it from the inside, I saw that it could get only about a foot into the air.

Being tender-hearted and a soft touch, I decided to care for the thing. (I'd googled caring for crows as pets and quickly decided that was not something I wanted to get involved in.) So I fed the darn thing: oatmeal, fruits and veggies, bits of cheese, some canned meat. Being really bad at imaginative names, I called it Buddy. Trust me, Edgar Allen Crow has been used a million times.

Young crow eating
Buddy wasn't sure what to think of me. His experience told me I was beneficent, so he'd stay pretty calm when I was around.

Baby crow
Until his parents caught sight of me, and immediately raised a ruckus from the treetops to make your head hurt. "Run! Hide! Danger!" Confused, Buddy would comply and tuck himself under the leaves again. I gave up trying to make friends; the family interference was just too intense.

Buddy liked hanging out on my chair.

Crow poops on chair
And as you can see, hanging out was not the only thing he did on my chair. And on the table. And all over the patio. Now imagine this going on for four or five days.

I didn't take pictures. It was too discouraging. I stopped using the back yard. The chairs were too dirty to sit in. And, tender-hearted or no, when I came out one morning to feed him (her?) and discovered he'd flown the coop, I was thrilled. For me, not for the bird.

Maybe I should have called him Nevermore.

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