NaNoWriMo 2010 Winner

I’m a 2010 NaNoWriMo Winner

According to some of the things I’ve read, one of the most enjoyable parts of NaNoWriMo is the sense of community and the pleasure of sharing the experience with other WriMos in the area. Perhaps I’m missing out. I know I haven’t talked much about NaNoWriMo this year – not on the blog and not to many people IRL either. Still, it was an interesting experience for me, and I’m proud to say that I’ve managed another 50K words of utter rubbish in under 31 days. No, you will never see any of it.

If I’m feeling honest I would admit that I had a much more detailed plan this year, and that the result of that was a marginally better story than last year’s story. That makes sense. At least this year when I hit 50K words, I still felt like the story was going somewhere. It’s not done yet, the story, I mean, but there are so many other things to do in the world, I’m not sure if I want to finish it, or just declare victory and move on.

I had a harder time finishing this year than last year, that’s for sure. I had thought that planning a relaxing trip to Hawaii would give me plenty of time to type away, but instead, it was harder to make the decision to write rather than explore, and by week three, I was at a huge deficit. More than anything else, this year taught me that I will probably never write a publishable book. When I think of the time investment that author friends have put into a single work – I get the itch to go snorkeling, surfing, hiking, skiing, just about anything. This exercise certainly gives you some appreciation for the sweat and determination that goes into creating books.

Speaking of books, I’m dying to tell you about a book that hasn’t come out yet, but which I’m really looking forward to. Now that I’m done with the WriMo stuff, it will soon have a post all its own, but in the meantime, check out author, Greg Crouch’s blog about China’s Wings, the pilots who flew over (through, really) the Himalaya during WWII. Tom and I got to hear a preview of some of these stories over dinner one day years ago at Hans’ Basecamp, and given the teasers in the blog, I can’t wait to get my hands on the published result!

Stories of Yosemite People

I had the good fortune, a few months ago, of running into Lynne Joiner, an Emmy-award winning journalist and author who was visiting Yosemite and had the kernel of an idea to write a story about the people living and working in Yosemite after stumbling across one or two employees with an interesting history. She told me about her idea, and I told her I thought it was a wonderful subject. She’d just finished writing a book, Honorable Survivor, and planned to spend the next months traveling and promoting it, but thought she might return to the idea in November. Well, it’s November, and she’s just finished another quick trip to Yosemite during which she stopped in and met with me briefly, rekindling my own excitement for the idea.

There are so many interesting people living in Yosemite, from all backgrounds and walks of life, who are assembled in Yosemite because of what Yosemite is, and because of the love of the place. I’ve already started contacting a few of the people I know who have interesting stories, and I hope the project will continue to grow. There are the legendary people in the park, of course, the Julia Parker types. But Lynne admitted that she was as interested (maybe even more interested) in the stories of the housekeeping staff than in the stories of the executive teams. NPS is conducting an oral history project, that I know far too little about, but is probably an amazing source of stories about people. NPS is interested in how the perception of Yosemite has changed over time, and have been interviewing people with a long history of the park for their “I Remember Yosemite” project, which is also fascinating, but this book could also be a different beast, something more inspirational that sets your mind to wandering through possibilities. What happens when where you are becomes more important than what you do to earn money? Maybe it would be start to expand the conversation Po Bronson started in his book, “What Should I Do With My Life?” beyond merely what one should do in terms of a career, as Tom suggested all those years ago. Who knows?

There is so much potential there. It’s set my mind spinning – who else should be in Lynne’s book?

Of course, it isn’t a book yet. It’s not even almost a book – she still has to pitch the whole idea to her agent, so who knows if anything will come of it. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and hope for at least a few teaser articles about some of the people who make this place such an interesting community.

Tuolumne Snow

We walked to to the top of Lembert Dome and got caught in a small snow storm
Lately, the weather keeps conspiring to precipitate on weekends only. Tioga keeps closing, and then re-opening in the sunny 60-70 degree weather during the middle of the week while I’m working. Fortunately, this weekend, the rain/snow forecast was a bit late in coming, and even though we slept in until almost noon, the road stayed open just long enough for Tom and I to hop in the trusty Subaru and take a peek.

I don’t know how many leaves this most recent storm will knock to the ground, but the autumn colors were magnificent on our drive, and we stopped, oohed and aahed, and snapped pictures. There are elderberries growing alongside the road, blue and tasty next to the reds and yellows of dogwoods and big-leaf maples. Western foliage season isn’t like its eastern counterpart. There are so many conifers here that the colors are just patches of flame against the cool greens of the firs, cedars, and pines. Not the same, but still beautiful.

Hwy 41 foliage and elderberries
When we got to Tuolumne, the skies were a dramatic blend of storm clouds and blue sky, and we walked the slabs to the top of Lembert Dome for a view. There were several other cars in the Lembert Dome parking area, but once we left the parking lot, we didn’t see anyone else. At the summit, we were treated to a few minutes of snow before it cleared up again. By the time we were halfway back down the slabs, the sun was warm on our backs again.

On the drive, we listened to the audiobook version of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I was so impressed with Dave Eggers’ talk on, that I was really looking forward to this story. We’re a little less than three full chapters into it at this point, and I’m afraid to turn it back on. It’s not that it isn’t good writing. It’s powerful writing. And the craziness of losing two parents to cancer inside of a year and having to raise your younger brother… hearing about it makes me a little crazy too. So, I took a break from that by reading City of Thieves by David Benioff. You wouldn’t think that a WWII story about the craziness of war in and around Leningrad would be much of an emotional break from craziness, but there it is. The introductory chapter is absolutely brilliant, and I had no idea until afterward that this is also the writer that is responsible for screenplays for Troy, X-men Origins: Wolverine, and The Kite Runner. A look at his highly acclaimed first novel, The 25th Hour is in order.