“Excelsior!” is a word our Latin teacher loved to write on his course syllabus. It reminded us to strive ever upward, to do our best and then some. Two writer friends (Gabe and Nick) and I also use the word as a closing greeting when we correspond.
Marquee Movies tells me that the “super moon” tonight is a once-in-eighteen-years phenomenon, bigger and brighter than a usual full moon. Maybe the moon had an influence on the “excelsior” writing day I had today — this, by grace, was a Saturday as Saturdays should be done!
Thanks to the new lifestyle patterns imposed by my job, I was able to get going and be out of the house by 9:00, something I never would have dreamed of doing a month ago! But when my weekdays start at about 5:20 a.m., sleeping in till 8:00 felt positively luxurious!
There is no machine for writing first drafts like the AlphaSmart Neo, whose praises I have sung before — a full-sized keyboard, visible screen, virtually endless battery life, portability, durability, simplicity, compatibility with either a PC or a Mac . . . and no distracting Internet connection. The Neo is a true friend who says, “When you’re with me, you’re writing.”
So I packed up my Neo and my notes on the novel, stopped at a Sunoco station for breakfast and coffee, and drove up to Grandview Park on Mt. Washington. The entrance commands a fine view of downtown Pittsburgh.
That would be the Monongahela River, I guess. In the center on the horizon is the Cathedral of Learning.
I’m told that that building on the left has been used in the Batman movies.
That yellow bridge is the Fort Pitt Bridge, which I most often cross. The Allegheny joins the Monongahela at that point to form the Ohio River, which flows up toward where I live.
First I hiked through the woods, looking for a good place to write. I found this picnic table and set up shop. I wrote here for a couple hours, then hiked some more. The rain held off. Eventually, the sun came out, and it was a perfect summer day in early May!
Grandview Park is located on a forested mountainside above the river. So at the top, there are park-like sections such as this. But below, trails wind through the wild wood.
Crumbling human-wrought blocks and stairways mingle with natural outcroppings, all blanketed by trees and leaves.
Above the trail, an old grandmother oak spreads her apron of roots. She mutters tales to all that has life and breath around her.
So I wandered back to that same picnic table, having found it to be the best writing spot in the park after all, though I searched far and wide, and found many a spot that was best in another category. I wrote more, stopped in briefly at home, then packed up a folding chair and drove to St. Mary’s Cemetery on the hill-top and wrote more there until dusk.
All told, I turned out 3,519 good words today — a feat I have not accomplished since Japan, when I had half of each week for writing. It was a day outdoors, where the birds sing and the light glows. It was a day at the keyboard. It was a day immersed in the imaginary world of my book. The best of three worlds!
Excelsior! All glory and thanks to God!