It is difficult to type with a bushy cat tail repeatedly swooshing across my keyboard. And it isn’t even my cat. My son is house-sitting for our friends, the Isaaks. I’m here to assist for a day or two before going off on my next adventure. Bruce the cat was my instant best friend, whereas Jordi the dog took a good half an hour to be convinced my son wasn’t leading the zombie apocalypse. A few handfuls of treats finally persuaded Jordi that Alec was not the enemy. They are now napping peacefully downstairs on adjoining couches while Bruce and I work upstairs, both of us attempting to use my laptop.
Last Wednesday I did the Osceolas solo. Mt. Osceola is an entirely too pleasant and easy climb. I did it years ago, but didn’t take East Osceola at the time (why would I?). Now, with a list to complete, I had to go back. I could have come in from the Kancamagus and just gotten the east peak, but it’s a hard climb and all the fun is over at Osceola proper. So I did the 8 mile round trip from Tripoli Road, over the main peak, over to the ugly sister, and back.
There is no excuse for East Osceola. It has no view, no water, and a scramble of rock-climbing that is sweat-inducing on the way up and hideous on the way down. It is there simply to make sure that you really earn your 4K stripes. On the other hand, as I said, Osceola itself is an easy hike up a moderate grade with refreshing run-offs along the way to cool the fevered brow. And the views from the summit are grand. From there I could see most of the other peaks I’ll be visiting in the next few weeks. I waved to them and warned them I was coming.
The downside to being such a pleasant hike is that every blessed outing club and family of four does it. Even on a Wednesday it was like Block Party Weekend on the summit by noon (I started early enough to actually have the trail to myself for a good part of the ascent). Now, I don’t mind sharing the trail with other folks. It’s kind of fun to stop and chat for a bit and compare hiking notes. But it’s those casual hikers that are a little unclear on the concept that drive me insane. Like the party of young women who haunted me on the way down. I heard their noise approaching from behind long before they caught up. They were prattling at the top of their voices about all their personal dramas. And the reason they had to shout was to be heard over the boom box they were packing which was blasting industrial Rap music. I hid in the bushes until they finally passed me and waited until they had crashed well out of earshot before coming out to resume my descent. Great God Pan, why come out to the stillness of the mountains if you’re going to truck your whole catastrophe with you?
On the writing front, I’ve just gotten back the edits for the short story version of the novel, so I’ll take some time this week to work on that. It’s titled “Unbranding”, and is due to come out next February in a NH Pulp collection called Love free or Die. I think part of the reason I was able to bonsai a 78K novel into an 8K story is because I knew one would not be sacrificed for the other. All those wonderful bits that end up on the cutting room floor won’t be wasted, so it didn’t hurt so much to slash ruthlessly away. It is a fascinating exercise in story-telling, contrasting the thoughtful, rich, leisurely pace of a novel with the spare, lean economy of a short story. Same core characters, same core themes.
Although “Unbranding” is a lovely little gem on its own, its parent, Discorporate is like piece of jewelry, bigger, more gems, includes setting. The process of perfecting “Unbranding” taught me quite a bit about how to distinguish the gems from the sparkly gravel, how to pare down to the best parts of a draft. (Grateful thanks for suggestions offered by awesome writing group and excellent editor.) Discorporate will be a better novel because of what I’ve learned.