Tag Archives: The Road of A Naturalist. Donald Culross Peattie

My Writing Journey

I have made progress this week with my WIP (work-in-progress). I have edited six chapters and solved a few problems. I knew my story but sometimes it’s hard to fit the pieces of a plot together. I wrote a new outline (not that much different from the original one) some months ago and tossed ideas around and finally got my fingers typing. For me I have to start my day writing. I rise early by inclination and habit on even the coldest mornings. This morning I was working by 7.30. Having had breakfast I treat myself to a cup of coffee only when all the basic morning chores are finished. A bribe you might call it…I call it a reward! I still have to decide how to write one particular chapter; from either a male or female protagonist point of view. I have written one chapter from the male point of view and feel it has turned out okay but to set a scene in a war zone might be more difficult for me to write. I won’t have to make that decision for a couple of weeks.

On saving words: I have a file with 16,000 words of ‘might be able to use’ scenes, paragraphs, or sentences. I don’t waste a word. I save everything I write!

From The Road of a Naturalist, by Donald Culross Peattie, published in 1948.

It was then that I discovered that the desert dandelions and Mojave asters and many other flowers close up at night. And other flora, nocturnal, steals into bloom. All day long one lax and weedy plant had looked dead, its flowers withered. But by twilight this wild four-o-clock secretly opened its rose-pink calyces and emitted a faint odour.

The West is a kingdom of evening primroses; though I knew many species, still I was unprepared for the dune primrose I found in the desert dusks. Its crepuscular flowers are like as those of a wild rose when they open, but insubstantial as spider floss, great moth like petals languidly expanding as if still oppressed with the long siesta of the day.

Naturalist  is a favourite book of mine. I read a page or two when I feel the need to be absorbed by this quiet American voice that speaks so eloquently of nature’s beauty.

Have a good writing week, Elise

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My Writing Journey

This week I have written a lot. I’ve edited chapters, expanded them, re-wrote part of them, and fell in love with my characters all over again. I am three quarters of the way through the novel now and with five days at a holiday house near the bay in Melbourne where I live I should be able to write every day.  Of course the first draft chapters have been edited several times so the last edit will be relatively quick, well it will be months and not years.

Literary Tip 

Anthony Burgess once said not to spend your ideas too freely. To me it sounds like good advice, the mystery that overlays your ideas disappears the more you talk about them. When you have your ideas and sit down to write, all the little sidetracks that you have discussed with fellow writers or friends and family no longer seem as interesting as they once were.  My advice is to keep your ideas to yourself.

From  The Road of a Naturalist, Donald Culross Peattie, a favourite book from my bookshelf.

‘My mother had lived in the West during the last Indian war in history: she had gone, as a reporter, into the prison tent of Sitting Bull, old Tatanka Yotanka himself, conqueror of General Custer. She was born in what she called “Middle Michigan,” and in her later years she drew this origin snugly round her with a laugh that mocked her own elderly cosiness. But in her youth, of which I was a late last child, there was about her the greatness of the West. It threaded her voice still, as she sat telling me, the firelight giving a glint to her eyes and the opal ring on her hand and the toe of her slipper so small for her vigorous step. Acoma. The Alamo. Cody, and Cripple Creek. Gila and “Cibola” and Virginia City. Names like old trumpets that you can still pick up to blow two ghostly notes upon them. Glory names, that hurt my heart.’

He wrote about his young mother when she was a young reporter:

‘She would go, on her own, three hundred miles to straighten out a tangled life, find a strayed husband, extricate an overworked girl, kidnapped once, a child covered in welts. Those were the days when she sold everything she wrote, and what she wrote of then was bounded by a fierce dusty, lonely horizon.’

Mrs Culross Peattie was an inspirational woman.

I haven’t read this book for many years but it is one I will take away with me this week and re-read.


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