Just wanted to share some good news with you. Well, regarding Oregon’s wolves!
My so-called book has rather ground to a halt. Sturdy followers of this blog will recall that in November last year, I sat down and wrote the first draft of a book, under the umbrella of NaNoWriMo = write a minimum of a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. That I did write in excess of 50,000 words (53,704) in under thirty days felt a wonderful achievement.
But then reality set in!
I subscribed to a NaNoWriMo webinar on editing hosted by David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut of The Book Doctors. To my horror, half-way through the webinar came the realisation that what I had written wasn’t even a fictional novel: It was a personal story on the theme of what dogs have taught me over a life of approaching 70 years.
So those 53,000 words had to be rewritten as non-fiction book!
The next boulder to cause me to fall was the issue of tense. The book had been written in the 3rd-person, as you can see from the draft of Chapter Twenty-Three. But the more that I thought about the story the more that it felt that it should be in the 1st-person; namely this first person! Reinforced by feedback from Jeannie and from reading Melinda Roth’s latest book Mestengo clearly written in the first-person.
I first smelled the smoke as I stood in the driveway of the farmhouse on the top of a hill in McHenry County in Northern Illinois that was, according to the man who leased it to me one month before, the highest point in all of Northern Illinois.
Damn, damn, damn! Now the rewrite not only has to go from fiction to non-fiction, it also has to change the tense from ‘Philip’ to ‘Paul’; from him to me! The words from The Book Doctors seminar rang louder and louder, “You write the first draft for yourself; you edit it for your readers!” (Smart arses!)
Then along came hope in the form of Kami Garcia, the author. It was a NaNoWriMo pep talk.
So you made it through NaNoWriMo, and you have 50,000 words… Now what? It’s the same question a lot of writers face when they finish a first draft. The good news is you finished the hard part: you have a draft.
I can hear some of you cursing me now: “But Kami, my first draft is totally crappy and worthless. It’s terrible. I wasted an entire month of my life, and all I have 50,000 terrible words to show for it.”
My answer: It doesn’t matter if you wrote the crappiest first draft in the history of all first drafts. You have something to work with, which means you can fix it, mold it, and bang it into whatever shape you want. Here are a few tips to get started:
Read Your First Draft (and Possibly Cry a Little)
After you put away the pint of ice cream and the tissues, take an objective look at your draft. What are the strongest points? The parts that kept you reading? Whether you print out your draft to make notes or use software (I love Scrivener), mark the best bits—circle, highlight, whatever works for you. These are the parts you’ll re-read whenever you start to lose hope (which will be often).
All of which is a long-winded way of me saying that I shouldn’t be spending time writing blog posts but have my head down in the big edit.
But, hey, already come this far so going to leave you with this wonderful news.
Good news: For the first time since 2009, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has confirmed wolves south of the Eagle Cap Wilderness!
Based on recent evidence, it’s clear that at least five wolves are frequenting an area in Northern Baker County. It may not be a story as epic as Journey’s, but it’s another good sign wolves are continuing to retake their rightful place on the Oregon landscape.
Those of you who have been tracking wolf issues for a long time, may remember the iconic photo of a scraggly Oregon wolf in sagebrush. The young wolf and his partner frequented an area near the Keating Valley in Baker County.
Sadly, the “Keating Wolves”, as they came to be known, were killed in 2009. Despite some tantalizing reports, since that time, only one Oregon wolf is known south of the Wallowas.
Later today, we’ll revisit the story of the Keating Wolves on the Oregon Wild Blog and post it on the Oregon Wolves Facebook page. Wolf recovery still has a long ways to go. But today’s news is significant.
Since 2009 – with your help – we’ve stopped round after round of wolf kill bills in Salem. We’ve stood up for wolves in court. We’ve worked with responsible ranchers. We’ve educated the public, highlighted the positive impacts of having wolves back on the landscape, and shared news – good and bad – of wolf recovery.
Things are far from perfect. Old prejudices die hard and wolves continue to be at the center of a campaign of misinformation and fear. The Obama administration is stubbornly pushing a scheme to strip wolves of important protections, and the state can still kill wolves on behalf of the livestock industry.
But today’s news is a sign that we’re headed in the right direction here in Oregon. And there should be more on the horizon. Wolves are mating, pups should be on their way, and Oregon will announce an updated wolf population estimate soon. That’s more news we look forward to sharing.
For wolves and wildlife,
Wildlife Advocate, Oregon Wild