Tag Archives: adventure

High Infatuation

Since our trip to Bishop in February/March, my friend Jen has been encouraging me to read some of Steph Davis’ books on climbing and mountaineering. So when an unexpected Amazon package showed up around my birthday and Steph Davis’ book High Infatuation was inside, I knew exactly who it was from.

High Infatuation is a different kind of book. In some ways, it feels almost like a collection of poems, except it’s not really poetry. It’s a collection of her thoughts on life, mixed in with some detailed accounts of defining trips and ascents in her career as a climber, a mixture of basic biography and personal diary. But it makes for great reading.

Davis is a professional climber who got a late start at it, never having climbed before her freshman year in college. But once she tried it, she was hooked. Davis has largely taken a fearless approach to climbing. If she has a knowledgeable partner she trusts, she’ll try just about anything, learning as she goes along.

Her snapshot glimpses into the adventurous dirtbag life certainly ignite if not wanderlust, an intense desire to get out and climb. Davis talks about working part-time jobs to afford to keep climbing, and to take trips to places including Patagonia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Baffin Island, although after a few cursory mentions of waitressing to earn money for her bills, she doesn’t really mention it again, which makes me wonder how she could afford to climb year-round later on. I guess maybe sponsorship money, although she doesn’t talk about sponsors at all.

High Infatuation feels like a very personal read. As I went through it, several times I got the feeling that, as Davis was writing, she must have also been using it as a way to make sense of things and reflect on herself and her life, where she is and where she’s come from. Getting to read that makes her story very real, even if the book does leave you needing to do a little more research on her professional career (assuming you haven’t already followed it).

I love reading these kinds of books, but every time I do, it makes me want to push my computer away (and push the book away too) and get out there and live it for myself. Instead of reading or writing about other people’s adventures, I want to be out there myself. And with Yosemite not that far away from me… maybe I need to develop some new friendships…

The final days

I’m less than 1,000 words away from winning NaNoWriMo this year (writing 50,000 words).

I have two days left, not counting today (and I don’t because I have to leave for work in an hour).

And I still have to wrap up this chapter and wrap up the whole story.

Where I am at almost feels like a climax of its own, but it’s actually the story winding down. Whether it will be a series or just one of the ambiguously cyclical stories that annoy some people and refresh others, I haven’t really decided. That will be something to consider later on, after I’ve finished the story and read through it again. At that point, I’ll be able to see if there is enough new ideas to pursue a series. Or, perhaps, I’ll be dissatisfied, and I’ll write another chapter or an epilogue or something. But all of that will be December’s problem. (Ok, probably a problem for some time later on in life, I never seem to get around to earnestly editing any of my projects.)

When I hit 40,000 words, I felt like I was running out of steam. As I looked at my outline for the last two chapters, I was wondering how on earth I was going to write them at 5,000 words each (even though just last week I was bragging about how they were such dense chapters). When it came down to it, I thought I was going to come up short.

But this gave me a great opportunity to add in some “extra” content that showed different strengths of different characters, and I think will really make the last chapter of the story make sense. I was able to add in a little bit of the snapshot of life kind of scenes that make the character real, show time passing, and give just a short break from the hustle and bustle of the main storyline.

So now here I am, just a little over 49,000 words, and I’ve still got the entire final chapter to write. If I’m honest, I’ll probably put that off until December (I’ve got a book calling my name, and I need to finish it so I can blog about it on Friday!).

But I’ve learned a lot about my writing process since I’ve tried out some new things this year, the biggest being that even if I plan and give myself structure, I still have creative license and freedom. While in general my story is the same as when I started out, several characters turned out to be very different than I had expected. And by letting myself plan as I go, I was able to adjust the key events in later chapters to reflect the new strengths and weaknesses that I discovered in my characters.

And finally, I was able to simply enjoy the writing instead of stressing over what is supposed to come next or how to pass time before moving on to the scene that is supposed to happen next month. So, I’ve committed myself now to being a semi-planner. I know where I’m going, but I can take side roads to get there.

Onward now to those final words.

Battle Magic

I have not read a Tamora Pierce novel in quite some time, though she was a favorite of mine in junior high and high school.

Battle Magic is a stand-alone in a series about a group of mages. I know I read most of the books in the series, but I don’t remember most of it. But I guess that’s a sign that it was a decent stand-alone, since I wasn’t confused.

I have to confess though, the series, I recall, wasn’t my favorite of hers, and this book followed that trend.

Two mages and a student are traveling through the world learning new things and looking at new plants when they find themselves caught in the middle of a war. They have to choose whether to help or go home, whether to make an extremely powerful enemy or retreat to peace. And once they decide to help, they have to find out how they actually can.

The story itself was good, plenty of action to keep it moving. But the writing just seems a little plain. Not quite childish, but very straightforward and dry. A part of that is simply the characters–that is how they talk, it is their personalities, very straightforward. But, it would have been nice to mix it up.

I was also waiting for something–anything– to mix things up and take the story, even briefly, in a direction I didn’t expect. Though that came a bit at the end, the final plot twist was short-lived and, frankly a little bit of a let down.

Now, whether that’s true, or simply my perception based on a variety of other things I’ve been reading lately, that I’m not quite sure. But would my high school self have enjoyed it? I’d have read it, like I did the others, and probably have closed the book with a similar dissatisfaction, as I did most of the other books in the series.

These characters, I think, just aren’t the kind that make books into friends for me. Not enough sarcasm and sass, maybe. But with six or seven sets of characters in various series and quartets, it’s not surprising that a person might find she doesn’t fit in with one group. And there are plenty of other characters and stories by Tamora Pierce that I love, so I couldn’t dream of holding these against her.

It does, however, make me want to revisit some of my favorites, and maybe pursue some of the series I never got to finish…