We found this shrew on the beach the other day. A sad little creature. We find fish sometimes, but also this tiny rodent which had no business a hundred feet out on the sand.
Every morning as we head out on our walk, I write essays in my head. They are usually the same essay about what treasures we find, about petting Roxxie, and about the trash we pick up. Sometimes write in my head about our nicer neighbors and sometimes I plan bitter exposés concerning the selfish, mean so-and-so who likes to lie to tourists.
Mostly, I do something else when I get home. This month, I go back to work on my computer. I was awake buy 5am and writing for National Novel Writing Month, thirty days of November to write 50,000 words of fiction.
I thought this month that I would write a science fiction novel. I had done the research, I had the characters and some of the action. In April I whizzed right through 15k words during NaNo Camp. I planned to restart this story from scratch. I thought it would be my novel for the year. I had questions I would answer as I wrote. I even had a list of chapters, an outline of plot. I would work on a five-thousand word section at a time. I had it figured out.
Theoretically, I was in good shape at the start, but my confidence almost immediately went to ground. My story about all animals—birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals—dying and only a handful of human survivors scattered across the planet did not need the 70k words I’d planned to write in November. I read a news story about loss of insects on isolated tropical islands and my story about seven women alone on a planet with only insects collapsed. Could I kill off the insects too? I abandoned hope oh me who entered here! This was not going to fly. I was unprepared to make the necessary changes. This was obvious by the third or fourth day of NaNo. What I felt prepared to write did not need even the 50k words that NaNo demanded. The story today is 37 pages and 11k words and has ended. True, I have a couple of places still marked “place scene here”, but these will add a couple of thousand words, no more and possibly only a page. There is no novel here. No possibility for a novel. There is not even a novella. My eventual 12 or 14 thousand words will make a novelette, and that’s before I go back to butchering. It’s an 8k story pretending to be something longer. Maybe it’s only a 6k story. Maybe, in the end, it will not be anything at all.
In the mean time, I have dug into my files and found fragments and even stories I thought were complete (they aren’t) to work on. I have a file with 49k already, but the last seven thousand words are a very old story that will have to be torn apart and rewritten from scratch. I pasted it into my NaNo packet because I hope that a single line will get me going. A woman thinks she sees a dead kangaroo in the grass beside the freeway, and her daughter thinks she imagining things. There are 141 words of dialogue and a good title. That’s what I hope will lead to a story of about five thousand words.
It’s like that poor little shrew on the sand. I don’t know how he got there. Or she. She probably thought she was on her way somewhere else. Sure this was not where she planned to end.
I called this post “cat and shrew” because when I was a little girl, my cat Mica was an enthusiastic hunter of shrews. I thought I might tell that story, but instead, as with NaNo, I went somewhere else/
There was this hawk the other day perched in a snag on top of the cliff north of our home. Sometimes there are crows there or one of the ravens. Most often we see an eagle. We have seen a Cooper’s hawk because our tenant means to feed birds, but also feeds chipmunks and rats, which then feed the hawk. The doves too.
All of us are just muddling along I suppose.