Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nablopomo and survival of the (not very) fittest

Dyrham Park, November

Is it really the end of Nablopomo? This is the third year I've completed the challenge to blog every day in November and the month seems to get shorter each time. They say a sign of ageing is that time passes more quickly - it certainly doesn't feel like a year since last December.

My theme, loosely interpreted, was nature and landscape. I'm not sure that helped with the quality of the output, but I at least tried to show that nature writing can go beyond mere description. Many of the posts placed me (or you as a reader) within the story, emphasising the human aspect over hard science or detailed observations. Writing this way has become instinctive, but if I were to analyse it, I'd say it's an attempt to reflect how we respond to the natural world.

Last Sunday I went walking in the Cotswolds with Jane and some friends. We saw a hawk - a peregrine, I'm sure - hunting over a clearing on the wooded ridge. And my immediate reaction was to run over for a better view, leaving the path and my rucksack behind. For a minute or so I was captivated by it's rise and fall on the ridge, the way it held it's tail, the shape of its wings, the anticipation that at any moment it would strike. I didn't spend ages looking it up in a guide, in fact, I only realised it had been a peregrine when that evening I checked what we'd seen against the options. The point I'm clumsily making is that it is the response to the bird that interests and excites me most and I suppose that is what I've tried to write about.

But I'm feeling tired now and not a little 'natured out'. Earlier this week I was saying to my father in law that writing reflects a part of me - but not all of me. It is a mistake, I said, to conflate life writing with autobiography. I have never yet met a writer who is not more complex, and often more flawed than their work might suggest. I am no different - I have an interest in nature and art and philosophy but I'm far from some aesthete who wouldn't contemplate flopping in front of the TV. For the next few weeks I think that's what I'm going to do - and maybe hit the gym as well, because thirty days staring at a screen is not great for the heart rate.

Talking of fitness, I noticed there were quite a few bloggers who didn't stand the pace. Of those who came through, my friends Zoe (mind and language) and Michelle (veg plotting) both gave me encouragement and wrote superbly throughout. My thanks to them and to everyone who commented - it always makes a difference. My apologies if I didn't always return the compliment - just too much to do and not enough November.

So that's all from my Nablopomo offerings - I hope you enjoyed them and they stirred a few thoughts. No doubt next year's challenge will come round sooner than I expect, which will just go to prove that I really am getting old.


  1. Well done you! Have a rest now...
    Sorry I haven't commented, but what with worry over the wait re lumpectomy, and now another little blip on the health radar, not really been up to much. I've popped in now and then, read a bit but never commented. Just in awe of the output.

  2. "I have never yet met a writer who is not more complex, and often more flawed, than their work might suggest..." This struck a chord for some reason. I think a lot of writer's (well, me certainly) often - even when we are being honest - are actually presenting forth an ideal that we ourselves would like to attain.

  3. Well done. It was a big challenge alongside everything else in your life and you did it. I enjoyed all the posts, but some were outstandingly good. Go and put your feet up and see you in the New Year. :-)

  4. I am still going back over your posts...they came thick and fast with a lot to digest!
    Swan off and slump in front of the box for a while...but I'd avoid the gym, if I were you...
    most unnatural.

  5. Oh it was a fantastic month...loved them all..truly did. Can't believe you managed to do this...would have made my mind fudgy and my eyes pudding. oh I must be hungry )))

    Speaking of hawks..we have had two on the island the past many weeks...steady hunting...poor songbirds are just hiding out for dear life and when I lifted my eyes to the garden two days ago, the hawk pursuing a mourning dove streaked by just in front of the kitchen fast, I am still unable to identify. Hope they move on soon. I miss the bird chatter.

    Great job Mark...again, really enjoyed this month and looked forward to each post.

  6. Great stuff Mark, may even have sold a few books. Some people seem to think November's all about growing a moustache, but now we know differently.

  7. As I have dipped in and out over the last few weeks I hadn't realised that it was all part of a special month long exercise. And there was I thinking that November was dedicated only to growing mustaches! Whether it is part of a challenge or not - the posts I have seen have been expertly crafted.

  8. Well done Mark, an excellent month's writing. Your post about the bothies was my favourite one, I think.

  9. Congratulations Mark and kudos goes to you, who managed to keep your extremely high standard going on top of finishing your manuscript.

    Thanks very much for your support and encouragement throughout. For me that sums up the good side of NaBloPoMo: the comradeship that develops between those of us who set ourselves the challenge each year. I'll be looking out for Zoe next time.

  10. It is so draining knowing you have to do something on a daily basis for a prescribed number of days. You did well to finish. I've not read them all but I have dipped in and out of a lot of them and as always marvel at your writing.

  11. I can't believe it's a month gone by either Mark. Congratulations on writing on nature every day. I have read every one but I didn't comment every time.

  12. You blogged every day for a month!? *hangs own head in shame* I think you may have blogged more this month than I have this year!!

    C x

  13. Hello Mark:
    What an amazing feat you have achieved in our prolonged absence from the Blogosphere. To fill each day with a blog post of real quality and of varied content is remarkable and each accompanied by some terrific photography too. Congratulations!!

    You certainly now deserve a rest. Thank goodness there are only 30 days in November but, perhaps a non leap year February might have been an even wiser choice!!

  14. if I dont get the chance
    just wanted to know I want you to have a lovely christmas xxx

  15. And a happy new year to you at the bike shed.