Donna Everhart

Pecking Order

At the top of a loblolly pine sat a large, black crow and a hawk, likely a Cooper’s Hawk since they are common and in most of the U.S. year round.  The interaction between the two looked interesting, so I stopped running, pressed “stop” on my Garmin and waited to see what would happen.  The crow cawed, a ridiculous, raspy, low throated cry, before lowering his/her head as if in supplication, while Mr. Cooper Hawk sat quietly, unaware of the noisy neighbor.  A close neighbor for that matter, only one foot apart best as I could tell.  I concluded after about fifteen seconds the hawk was actually the intruder, according to the crow.  But, in some ways this was surprising because the crow was smaller, and I know hawks dine on other birds.  I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing evidence in my own backyard and snapped a photo, post meal.  (picture below, with bird of prey having a nice rest after devouring a delicate, tasty dove.)

Winged Visitor

Notice the dusting of feathers, on the bricks to the left?  That’s all that remained.  Sad, but true.  And…, notice the feeders?  This was the spring/summer I stopped feeding the smaller birds because I felt like I was setting them up to be hunted.  (that’s also a massive oak we had to take down due to disease.)

Anyhoo, back to the current hawk and crow situation.  The hawk suddenly took flight and the crow followed, dipping and swerving right behind, right on its tail, chasing it out of the neighborhood.  Well, that solved the mystery of who was who in this particular pecking order.  I started my stopwatch again and went back to my run, but the whole incident gave me something to think about.

The pecking order of all things – even writing.  Now you might be wondering, just how’s she gonna spin this into a blip about that?  Well, well.  Good question.  But it really does apply, if you think about it.  All a pecking order does is elude to who is in charge, or in this case and more importantly, what comes first in an effort towards publication.

Many people I talk to about writing (and the word many is used loosely here because I don’t talk to “many,” on this topic) have said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”  Most writers will hear this at some point in time, and if you haven’t already, you will.   And I’m sure we all know that wanting and doing aren’t a good mash up when it comes to goals.  I mean, hey, first things first, you have to write the book!   I think this is what makes NaNoWriMo so popular.  It is the idea of the collective effort, during this one month, mastering or meeting this goal.  50,000 words.  A completed book!  Well…, a complete book in some genre’s, about two third’s completed in others.  (check your word counts if you aren’t sure)  Hard – but doable.  If you participate, get it done, you’re that much closer.  And, you’re doing, not wanting to do.

Here’s the truth for me.  I have never participated in NaNoWriMo.  Some part of me wants to…, just to experience it, while another part doesn’t.  The part that wants to is curious.  What’s it all about, and how hard is it really?  Really, really hard I would have to think.  And, had I participated, I could have added 50,000 words to my existing work and I’d have my third novel, approximately 90,000 words, done.   Those 50,000 words might not be pretty, but they would exist.

The other part, the “don’t want to,” part, is aware of how a push for words can stifle creativity – in my head anyway.  I’ve experienced this when participating in agent Janet Reid’s (Query Shark) writing contests.  We have twenty four hours (really 48 b/c she generally gives us a heads up the day before it starts) to produce a 100 word story.  I’ve felt my brain freeze, dry up, the words refusing to come.  They become elusive, and coy, hiding in my gray matter like a bunch of kids playing hide-n-seek.  I usually get some kind of story in, but I’ve also known, many times, it’s not my best work.   In NaNoWriMo, 50,000 divided by 30 = 1,667.  How could I write 1,667 a day (rounded up b/c it’s really 1,666.66 and 666 of anything creeps me out.)when my poor lump of a brain struggles over 100 at times??  And, it’s during the holidays?  And there’s the stress of everything else that’s part of anyone’s daily routine?

I prefer the freedom of what I call “writing at will.”  I sit down, produce 200 words or 2,000.  Sometimes I write 2,000 and end up with 350 when I read back over it.  I do realize writing 50,000 words in one month on the fly isn’t expected to be publishable material, it’s about the idea of getting the story down.  Maybe I’m just being lazy and stubborn, or, maybe I don’t want to feel forced, or lose the fly by the seat of my pants style of writing.  Maybe it’s the fact I’ve already written two books, and I see it as a way for writers to kick start their word goal on a first book.  Whatever it is, I can’t seem to bring myself to sign up.  Based on some related articles below, it looks like I’m not the only one who’s said thanks, but no thanks.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?  Did you think it was worth it?


8 thoughts on “Pecking Order”

  1. I’ve never tried NaNo writing month. It sounds too much like running a marathon without training first, or like dreading the start of swimsuit season and suddenly it’s upon you and you’re stuck there, or or or… In other words, it feels too much like a false imprisonment in my chair for a month, so I’ve always said No to NaNo.

    I do, however, know others who look forward to it and love it. It works for them. But for me, I know exactly what I’d do: I wouldn’t write a thing, while waiting for Nov 1, and then I’d be so “done, just done” (like running that marathon with no training) and not write another thing all winter.

    At least, those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them. 😉

    1. “…false imprisonment in my chair….”

      Exactly! I should have also said, it’s the idea of answering to something or someone when…, I don’t really want to, like a self imposed workaholic mandate that would suck me dry, I think.

  2. Never have, never will. To me it’s “stunt writing.” I write as well/much/often as I can, which is much as you describe in your last paragraph.

  3. Pingback: It’s That Time Again | DONNA EVERHART

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