If you’re smart you’ll learn by heart….

ScalesMini

Well, my “book” is “done” — I know that’s far too low a words-to-quotation-marks ratio there, but the truth is the truth. I do not actually expect to do anything with this piece of writing other than halfheartedly editing it and then storing it in the same dusty old My Documents folder as the last two NaNos and my old PSY281 projects. Seriously, for a while there I’d just uninstall my word processor between semesters to save space.

So, I passed 50k, but that’s pretty much all, folks. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. It was a fun ride, I got some nice cramped fingers and wore out my keyboard a little. Mostly, as usual, I got some minor bragging rights and a little storytelling practice. What this one does have going for it, though, is that I actually got it to end when and where I wanted, instead of hitting 50k and trailing off because there was no real reason for me to want to go any further. The downside, of course, is that I basically just wrote words until there were enough, and then stopped, because that’s how this one was set up. I haven’t gone back to read any of it yet, but I can’t imagine it’d be a fun task. It’s like 60 pages’ worth of this blog, minus any actual informational content.

Don’t get me wrong, it was actually pretty fun. And of course, it’s not like I did anything with my NaNo drawings from last year, either. But writing, when I’m the one doing it, has always struck me as particularly futile. I’m aware of the irony of this coming from someone who currently writes one weekly and one monthly blog, but *those* have pictures. I never even made up any illustrations for this book; frankly, I figured I’d wasted enough time on the thing already. I actually went and wrote part of it as a poem, just so I’d feel like I actually “made” something.

Which is why today’s picture, once again, has nothing to do with the majority of this entry’s content. In fact, very little has anything to do with today’s picture. Today’s picture (again, not a drawing, sorry) is a bunch of musical fish puns. It took a lot longer than you’d imagine, especially since I didn’t even draw the fish (don’t worry, they were public-domain, but still). I blame it on aforementioned NaNoWriMo time-wastage. Some might argue that this is an equal example of time-wastage, as fish and music aren’t really two interests that are known for overlapping. But … but … fish scales. Treble hooks. Sea bass. TOO TEMPTING TO PASS UP.

That said, I actually know nothing about music (I took an intro music course and had some piano lessons as a kid, but for whatever reason musical comprehension is just completely beyond me), just fish, so if there are mistakes … well, you’re not allowed to make fun of me, because I’m severely musically-challenged. It just wouldn’t be sportsmanlike.

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Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be…

NutellaSince my last post, I’ve managed to catch two colds and write about 40,000 NaNoWriMo words. I imagine the second number would be higher if the first were lower, but such are the perils of an early winter and an inability to sleep for the proper amount of time. I’m enjoying the “chapter” I’m on right now, though — it’s narrated by Crow, one of my favorite beasties, and I’ve managed to incorporate the Crow and the Pitcher, Raven Steals the Light, and a few other corvid-related bits of mythology into the story so far. It’s looking like I’ll wind up with eight different species’ takes on the way of things at the Beginning of the World, though each has a different focus, interpretation and style. Two major natural events, a flood and an eclipse, are the only constants, though why and when they happened vary. There’s also one recurring quote and action, which occurs at different places in the stories and with different connotations, with no real explanation given for its persistence.

This, of course, has nothing to do with today’s drawing.

A few days ago, I was walking to the grocery store and I heard a strange, hollow scraping from somewhere above me. A couple octaves lower and I’d assume it was a squirrel gnawing on a walnut, which can be heard from a surprising distance on a still day when the trees are bare. But this sounded almost like metal or plastic. I ducked away from the nearest tree, because it was an icy day and there were a few cracked branches around. I didn’t fancy having one of them fall on me as I tried to pinpoint what sound it was making. But when I looked up, I realized it was none of these things.

A fat squirrel was carrying something brown in its mouth. It wasn’t a nut, and it wasn’t a pile of leaves for its nest. This left “garbage,” and upon closer inspection (and listening) it did in fact appear to be a piece of hard plastic of some kind. The little fellow was gnawing on it, which just seemed incredibly sad, so I ran up a bit closer to see if I could scold him into dropping it and finding a healthier alternative. The squirrel just flicked his tail and scurried into a higher branch — but not before I caught sight of the label and shape of the package. It was the container for one of those little Yan Yan-style snacks with the cookie sticks on one side and the dip on the other. They come in a few flavors these days. This one?

Nutella.

Bless his little squirrely heart, he was just after some hazelnuts. I don’t know whether he managed to get a tasty (if rather unhealthy, for a squirrel) meal out of it or not, but it reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s brief poem “Peckin’,” which begins “The saddest thing I ever did see/Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.” I really wished I’d had a camera for this one, but as it is I had to settle for a sketch (I probably should have just taken the time to grab a couple squirrel pics for reference, it’s not as if they’re hard to find; but that’s a lot more work than just drawing stuff and hoping for the best. I’m all about doing less work!).

These little things define us….

ScribsThis is sort of a token drawing at this point. I’ve been writing instead of drawing in my spare time for once, so this is a drawing from last month when I was supposed to be writing. It’s some things and a wren.

The writing itself is going … interestingly, I suppose. I’m doing fine wordcount-wise, as I’ve hit the 15k mark and am still going, but it’s already getting increasingly boring and ridiculous. I never actually do anything with my NaNo novels though (I have two others at this point, one of which I didn’t even really finish once I hit 50k), it’s more of a somewhat-healthy outlet for my competitive streak. It certainly works better than racing random pedestrians across large parking lots or trying to be the last to finish my Halloween candy (as you may have guessed, I have a much better chance of winning at the former).

I’ve finished the lions’ mythology and am moving on to the leopards — what I’ve learned so far is that I will never get used to how big hyenas are, and (from how the story is developing, at least) cats are just incredibly racist. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at that last one, really. I love cats and all, but if you’d expect any species to have an abnormally high percentage of jerks, most felines are right up there. Either they can’t help it, or they can but they know we’ll adore them no matter what. Cats are all about minimal effort.

Basically, I’m at the point right now where the lions have said the other big African cats are a bunch of inbred weirdos, and the leopards have countered that they’re just a bunch of sons-of-baboons. I’m curious to see what will happen with the cheetahs, since I don’t see them being quite so … well, catty. Time will tell!

The party never ends, the game begins again…

Beasts

Well, it’s been a year since I drew my way through November with “NaNoRefMo” (making catchy abbreviations isn’t really my forte, okay?). This year I’m actually going to try to write words, which should be interesting. I’ve finished NaNos before, of course, but I didn’t actually have an idea for this year’s until like … ten hours ago.

I decided to just revisit an idea I had a while ago, and hope beyond hope that somehow it turns into 50k words’ worth of story instead of the “long picture book/graphic novel” level of material I envisioned back then. I love the idea of animal mythology (that is, animals’ mythology — think Watership Down’s trickster-god El-ahrairah), and wanted to write a story along those lines. In this case, I wanted a lion’s creation myth, and how that might be different from (and similar to) the various histories given by humans.

It’d take a lot of detail to make THAT into a whole book, so as a backup plan I thought maybe I could try for multiple animals’ takes on the same theme. How would the social, carnivorous lions’ interpretation compare to the solitary leopard’s, or the herbivorous antelope’s? What about creatures in the jungle or desert versus those on the savannah? Would they have some sort of genetic or clan memory of extinct and prehistoric creatures? How would that be addressed? The baboons would have an interesting bank of folklore built up over their generations, but would it be horribly sexist? That said, would it only be passed down by the females, who stick together in their home groups? Would the breadwinner lionesses have cautionary (or possibly humorous) mane-related hunting-blooper tales explaining why A Male’s Place is in the Home?

Anyhow, I don’t know how much of this will actually make it into written words and how much will just be channeled into energetic margin-doodling, but at least I’ve got a plan! Sort of! Wish me luck, and good hunting writing all!