Day 4

Questions of the day:

When will I learn that writing is a slow process? That revision is a slow process? That no matter how much I enjoy what I’m doing–and, contrary to normal hyperbolic squawking, I do enjoy it, especially revision–I will not turn out page after page after page in a two-hour session?

That when I finish one scene, I have to go on to the next? That no matter how much I admire what I have just completed, I can’t stop to celebrate by stopping for the day?

That 1800 words is a lot, but measured against the NaNo 50,000, or indeed the 80,000 I really need, it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket? And less than that in the proverbial ocean?

No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Those lines just popped into my head. They show the situation is worse than I thought. There isn’t just one proverbial ocean, there are multitudinous seas. And tossing my 1800 words from the shore would be like immersing a bottle of food coloring. Not even the sharks would notice.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin – his control
Stops with the shore.

I thought of that, too. My grandfather, I’m told, sang scales to a truncated first line: Roll on thou deep blue ocean–roll! It doesn’t work in iambic pentameter, though. Accents go on Roll and roll.

On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

And that slipped in with the others. I sing this one because, as soon as I think of it, it sticks in my head. I would sing more, but this is all I know.

I’ve been wondering what to do after I leave this coffee shop. Now I know. I’ll sing. Driving home. Cooking dinner. From time to time throughout the evening, when I least expect it, I’ll burst into song. David won’t say anything. He appears to have gotten used to it.

I haven’t been stuck on “Mandalay” for quite a while. My default is

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin

So there are advantages to having Kipling on the brain. I know only half a verse of the crocodile, and failing to reach a natural ending, an “Amen” of sorts, leads to immediate and unfortunate repetition. Sort of like what happens with Little Bunny Foo Foo. I taught Little Bunny Foo Foo to my cousin’s kids when I was in high school. I don’t think their mother has ever forgiven me. I may teach it to her grandchildren.

The clock on the computer tells me it’s past time to start home. I didn’t finish what I started out to do, but, having emptied my brain of over five hundred unnecessary words, I’m much lighter in spirit.

6 thoughts on “Day 4

  1. Oh Kathy, what a fabulous gladstone bag of verse! I found myself singing the scale – works well, thank you, must use it with the kids- and counting the iambic pentameter.

    How you do this and manage to write a novella at the same time, I have absolutely no idea.

    I do remember reading somewhere that NaNoWriMo is all about quantity not quality, and I am fairly sure that very concept is anathema to you:-) You are a quality writer, and perfectionism shines through every phrase. Best of luck with that whole quantity thing.


    1. Kate,

      I learned the scale long before I knew “Roll on” was from a poem, so it’s very for me to sing it in iambic pentameter. I can read it that way, but not sing it. I’ve tried several times this morning. The first word doesn’t want to go on an upbeat.

      You’ve hit upon my dirty little secret. I’m not writing a novella. I’m trying to revise three chapters so I can apply for a small grant. Revision was to be complete by November 1–it is to laugh!–but now it’s pushed NaNo aside. NaNo was a desperate attempt to do quantity. I hope to get to finish by the 15th so I can do two weeks of NaNo. In my next installment, I’ll explain why I’m not a journalist, although I think I explained it here.


    1. Not many, really. I studied poetry (what little I studied) under professors who read it aloud, and when I taught, I read to my students. With the tape recorder in my head, I picked up a lot of scraps. And with google, it’s so easy to throw out a few keywords and get back what I’m looking for. I am a lazy researcher.


    1. If it’s still repeating, try “Whatever happened to Randolph Scott, ridin’ the trail alone?” That usually knocks it out of my head.


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