Monday, November 9, 2009

With Ketchup?


Who doesn't like gazing at the colorful kaleidoscope of autumn leaves on the trees?

I know I do.

It's when the leaves drop from the trees and cover my yard to a depth of four inches that I don't much care for them.

Every year, I vow to come up with a good solution for clearing my yard. And every year, I end up blowing and raking all the leaves into a huge ditch in the woods behind my house. I've dreamed up all sorts of "innovative" solutions. What about covering the entire yard with a net or some kind of mesh, then rolling it up after it's covered with leaves? How about a pedal-powered vehicle that you ride along the lawn, picking up leaves and depositing them in a towed basket? (FYI, I'm too, uh, frugal to actually go out and purchase a riding mower or pay to have the leaves cleared.)

Now I do have two boys, and they help...a little. But I still end up doing most of the work on my own. I keep telling myself it's good exercise.

When I survey the vast sea of dead leaves before I start, my task seems insurmountable (I told you, I have a LOT of leaves in my yard.) and an old adage comes to mind (which I've seen mentioned a lot lately). Elephant

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

The same way you write a book. One word at a time.

Keep at it and eventually you'll have a completed manuscript.

Now, I'm off to do some raking.



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You are so right, Alan! If we just get those words on the page a little at a time, we've got a new book before we know it.

My husband and I mow over our leaves with a riding mower. It's SOOO worth the couple grand. We've had our riding mower for 10 years now and it's still going strong (knock on wood....)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Unknown said...

I spent Saturday getting "all the stuff you have to do in preparation of winter" done, including the leaves (but on a much smaller scale than it sounds like you had to tackle), cutting back all the plants that adorn my yard (what was I thinking?) and swapping out the lawn mower for the snow blower.

I try to practice that philosophy and take things "one bite at a time," but darn it, you plug away and accomplish things on "the list," only to have more things jump on your list when you're not looking.

Hey! Alan, for mundane tasks like the yard stuff - get your MP3 player or IPOD and listen to The Boss while you're working! That at least makes the task a little more bearable! :)

Anonymous said...

Alan - There's so much truth to what you say about writing (and raking leaves) one step at a time. It's a very helpful reminder, too, because it really can be discouraging to realize how much one hasn't written yet.
My family and I solved the leaf problem in the easiest way: we live in an apartment community, so the leaves are taken care of for us. The writing journey....not so much...

Helen Ginger said...

One of the good things about living in central Texas is that mesquite trees don't drop leaves. The bad thing is no jumping into piles of leaves.

You are so right about tackling a book one word at a time. We sometimes lose sight of that when we're staring at a goal of 80,000 words!

Straight From Hel

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Hmm, looking out my window at the pavement, concrete and powerlines and wishing I could see autumn leaves. I'm with Crystal, get thee an iPod. Listen to The Boss or listen to books. It will make the work so much more pleasant and time will fly.

Elspeth Futcher said...

Oh, the leaves! We have hazelnut trees so not only do I have leaves to rake, but hazelnuts to harvest before the squirrels come and bury them in odd places. I find it amazing how the same leaves which look so beautiful on the trees look so disgusting lying all over my yard.

It is exactly the same as writing; one leaf, one word at a time. By the way, if you invent a word raker let me know. I'd pay good money.


Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - Of course, I neglected to point out that those words need to be in some kind of logical order. I've gone 18 years without a riding mower, I'm gonna stick it out.

Crystal - I wonder if you can use a snow blower on leaves? Hmmm. I do, in fact, listen when I rake. Usually "California Dreaming" over and over again.

Margot - One step at a time. Good advice, for sure, until your feet hurt.

Helen - I think I'd suffer without leaf jumping if I didn't have to rake. Now that you mention it, 80K words is a lot!

Sue Ann - You know, I still haven't gotten on the audio book bandwagon. Some people absolutely love them, but...I'm afraid my deficient audio processing would be a hindrance.

Elspeth - I have no problem getting rid of words (delete key works well). We need to invent something that strings them together for us!

Annette said...

We not only have our own leaves to deal with, but the neighbor's leaves all seem to blow over here as well. Why all the prevailing winds direct leaves to our yard, I'll never know. But we mow them and/or I rake them onto my flower beds. Voila! Mulch!

I'm doing the one word at a time thing with an article I'm working on. Needs to be 400 to 500 words and I only had 300. But I managed to pad it today with an additional hundred, so I'm in the approved range. But it was one word, one phrase at a time, because thinking I had to add a hundred words to the story when I'd pretty much said all I had to say on the matter seemed too overwhelming.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I would very much like to take a riding mower to my current WIP. It would make great confetti, which I would then use to….mulch your garden.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Alan Orloff said...

Annette - It is hard to pad something that you think is good "as is." I guess that's what adjectives and adverbs are for.

Galen - If you want to destroy your wip, simply invite that girl's soccer team for a visit. They should rip it to shreds in short order.