So we discovered a few weeks ago that we'd been starving our daughter. We called her alternatively 'hard to feed' or a 'bad eater' and considered that if she were hungry she'd ask for food. Her motion never stopped, but her growth slowed. She's a year and still wearing 9 month clothes. The verbal experiments that she constantly treated us to thinned and became less frequent. Tired parents that we are, we considered this a plus. It's not.
Our son had no problems eating. We weren't experienced with this behavior. Or we were lazy. That was probably some of it. A nutritionist informed us that she needed to be eating 1000 calories a day. She had been eating maybe half that. Two bites of this in the high chair and she shoved the spoon away; a bite of that, a nibble here and there and she cried to be let out, be let down to roam around. We accommodated her to make our own eating easier.
To reach the 1000 calories a day, she must be almost constantly fed. I spent the entire morning following her around with a bottle of diced peaches in my hand. A bite here, then some stuffed bear wrestling. Another bite and some wee wee tumbling in the air. Two more bites and a diaper change. On and on and on. She ate every bite but it just had to be presented to her in a certain way.
The same thing occurs in the feedingand care of a fictional narrative, I think. Here I am in front of a series of pages. I tell it, "Ok, I have two hours now before I become so tired I won't be able to think, so let's get it done." And I sit and type a few sentences and sit. Perhaps I type a few more before a period is thrown up on the screen so large that I can't get around it all. The way I write is much the way my daughter eats. It becomes a constant activity to be woven in amongst everything else.
I also believe that this illustration will help me understand pacing and control in a novel as well. My urge is to spoon out the details in a flurry as if stuffing them down a reader's gullet will somehow fatten the text. I think it may just make them choke.
My production has slowed as I work further into longer works. I took a break from the novel project for a couple of days and decided to write a flash fiction instead. I wanted something shorter that I could send out and try to get published, hopefully at an Indie type of journal. I sat down with a simple idea and typed it out. It ended up being 2600 words without even thinking about it. I could easily see it becoming twice that. These are good trends, I think and will be useful in the novel project. On the next break, I'm going to spend a couple of days working on poetry. That always sharpens the descriptive lens.
It's been almost a month now since we've been feeding our little girl in this new, chase-her-around manner. She's grown nearly half an inch. She's loud as a tea kettle. She's putting together words into sentences. She brings me book after book to read to her. My son never did that. It pleases me that she finds a fascination on the page. Last night, she dragged Joyce's Finnegan's Wake from one of my book shelves (shelved lower to not constantly remind me of my failure to comprehend it) and brought it to me. I told her that I wasn't old enough to read that one yet so we compromised on The Hungry Caterpillar. I'd read a page and feed her a bite. I chose the pattern purposefully. The words came first.