Week 14 Review. And Pancakes!

NaNoWriMo Day 7 word count: 13,017

Before I started NaNoWriMo, I was hard-pressed to find anything to blog about. I would be searching around for quotes and writing a lot about the books I was reading or the podcasts I was listening to. Ironically, now that I’m writing so much more every day, I find I have even more to say on the blog. So rather than blog about week 15 and then post about my pancakes tomorrow, I’m just going to do both in one post.

If you just want the pancakes, feel free to skip to the end.

This week, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to keep pace with my goal of writing 1,667 words per day on my novel. Today I’m almost a day ahead because my husband presented me with the gift of about three hours (cumulative) of kid-free writing time. I have a “Ladies Night” scheduled with some mom friends this Wednesday, so I wanted to get a bit ahead, in case I don’t get much writing done that night.

I’ve been avoiding writing much about writing because I feel a little superstitious about the whole process. It’s not clear when the “muse” is going to sit down with me at the keyboard and when she’s not. But I’m encouraged by the “writing begets writing” phenomenon I seem to be experiencing, and the success (so far) I’ve had in just playing around with the novel rather than worrying about whether it’s “good” or not.

I’m kind of approaching it as though I’m gathering raw material which I will later hone into something lovely. In the wake of the Chilean mine collapse and subsequent rescue, there was a story on All Things Considered about Chilean mineworkers. These aren’t the minors who work for companies. These are free agents who work in mines that have been closed down because they’re not profitable enough anymore. They operate without safety equipment or really any oversight at all. If an accident happens to one of these miners, it’s unlikely anyone would even know until it was too late to do anything. The way they get the gold out of these spent rocks is they chisel out pounds and pounds of rock then grind it down. From Juan Forero’s interview with one of the miners,

He’s happy with four ounces of gold for every 130 pounds of rock he manages to pull out of the mine…To get at a few precious particles, though, he has to pulverize the rocks, then scrape them.

While I’m not physically mining more than my weight in rock each day, four ounces of gold for every 130 pounds of rock is about the ratio I’m targeting in my writing.

In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami likens writing to digging for water. As a writer, each day you set to work digging, hoping you hit a vein of water. And every time you hit water, you feel grateful to have found it and also somewhat fearful that the spring won’t be sufficient to sustain you.

But if you don’t dig, there’s no chance of finding it at all.

So, my 1,667 words per day are my digging. I won’t know until I pulverize the rocks and sift through the dust just how much gold I’ve mined.

Mostly I try to think of my writing as play rather than as work. More than ever before, I get the sense that this process is about getting to know my characters and letting them reveal their stories to me. In the interview with Lynda Barry on To the Best of Our Knowledge (that I mentioned in September in my post, “Happiness is Like a Butterfly”), Barry talks about how she experiences writing—and teaches it to her classes—as a process similar to recalling a memory and writing it down. I’m pretty good at writing things down from my memory. That’s likely why I felt such an affinity towards creative nonfiction in college. It’s been something of a revelation that I can use the same process to write fiction.

Even if the events I’m recording never happened in reality, there’s some truth that’s trying to speak through them. It’s like I’m opening myself up to the truths of the universe (or at least those questions and fears that lie in my soul and in my psyche) and channeling them through my fingers. At least that’s my hope. I have so far maintained faith that those truths are there, even if they’re buried deep in the rock.

Let’s see…what else has gone on this week? Well, the Facebook Fast has been going fairly well. I spent a few days feeling paranoid that I wasn’t in contact with anyone until I remembered that I had intentionally left Facebook. All of the people with whom I usually connect are still there, and if I go back to Facebook, I can connect with them again. Or I can find another way (the phone, perhaps? Or good, old-fashioned e-mail?) to connect with these friends outside of Facebook. IRL, as the kids say. (Yes, some of these “kids” are older than I am by 10 or 15 years. I use the term loosely to refer to anyone better-versed in the online world than I am.) For the most part, I’m loving the Facebook Fast. I have so much more time, and now that I’m not processing so much information, I feel much less frenzied.

Things are still somewhat in chaos, as I might have expected changing around my entire routine. But the chaos has the feel of the chaos I necessarily created as a part of my decluttering. It’s necessary to the process, and greater clarity will follow.

(Did I mention I attended service at the Buddhist Temple this morning?)

OK, enough about my week. Let’s talk pancakes!

I modified a recipe from Feeding the Whole Family and made some very yummy GF/CF pancakes this morning. I topped them with the Blueberry Sauce recipe from the same book. Super, super yummy.

Multi-Grain Pancake Mix

1 1/3 c brown rice flour

1 c garbanzo/fava bean flour

1 c potato starch

2/3 c tapioca flour

1 T xanthan gum

1 c buckwheat flour

1 c cornmeal (medium grind)

3 T baking powder

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t sea salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

To make pancakes:

1 1/2 c pancake mix

1 c buttermilk (1 c non-dairy milk plus 1 T lemon juice)

1 T maple syrup

1 egg, beaten (this can be omitted, but pancakes will be a little less fluffy)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto a pre-heated, oiled skillet. Makes about 6 pancakes.

Blueberry Sauce

(reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) http://www.cookusinterruptus.com)

2 T kuzu or arrowroot powder

1 c apple or berry fruit juice (I used cranberry-raspberry from Costco)

1 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

2 to 3 T maple syrup

1 t lemon juice

Dissolve kuzu in juice in a small saucepan. Add blueberries and maple syrup and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture turns clear and purple, about 3 minutes. Remove for heat, stir in juice, and serve immediately.

The finished product:

GF/CF Pancakes and Blueberry Sauce. Modified from "Goldie's Whole Grain Pancake Mix" in Feeding the Whole Family

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