Friday, 8 April 2016

A is for Attenborough

We have in our house the complete set of Life on Earth DVDs by the great David Attenborough. I love this man's work, yet I have never watched any of it. Something else is always happening.

Today, as part of my Alphabet Working Challenge, I plan to change that. Okay, it isn't strictly work, but I can sort of justify it on the basis of looking for ideas for the science fiction novel I plan to write one day. There are many very strange creatures in our multicoloured world, and I'm sure some of them will give me ideas for my alien planet.

I won't be binge-watching all day. That's just not on; I've signed up for Camp NaNo, so I have to work on my new book. It's called Operation Camilla, by the way. A sequel to my crime novella, Operation Tomcat. Here are the two covers:

Operation Tomcat, by the way, is available from Amazon or Smashwords.

So what I'll be doing today is writing Operation Camilla and watching Life on Earth in between sessions.

The first series is The Living Planet. I don't start watching it until after ten a.m., by which time I have a solid 950 words written for the day.

The Building of the Earth

The first program in the series is Furnaces of the Earth. And what an extraordinary program it is! I am blown away by the cuteness of the Himalayan Panda and the yellow-throated marten, but I learn, too, various surprising facts - that India is moving north at two inches a year, that the Himalayas are still growing, and not least, that David Attenborough is an insanely brave man. As he plays with a chunk of hot basalt, with a roaring volcano eruption in the background, while he casually chats about how basalt flows can move up to forty miles an hour, I realise as never before that it's not just all knowledge and camera skills, but a level of bravery that few could emulate.

Another session on the book, and at 1500 words I give myself another television break. This next program is about the lands of snow and ice. I expect to feel quite at home given that our heating is not working, but actually it just makes me even colder.

The Frozen World

This too is an interesting show. The courtship battles of mountain sheep, displayed at some length, are eerily reminiscent of the behaviour of bogan males in the pub. I am astounded by the cleverness of the Inuit people, who can, I learned, put up an igloo in an hour, and the prize for cuteness goes to the baby penguins.

By the third work period I am slowing down, and only get another 300 words. That's fine, though. I'm still at 1800, and it's only a quarter past four, and I've already walked the dog. Time for another episode. This one is about the pine forests of Scandinavia.

The Northern Forests

The bogans of this episode are the voles, who breed at an astonishing rate. One mother of four is already pregnant again, and will soon abandon her young family to start a new one elsewhere. Just like in Werribee. The beauty prize goes to the lynx; the adorableness prize to the raccoon. Again I am astounded by Sir David's bravery; he dons a crash helmet and protective spectacles to climb a tree and mess with the nest of a Great Owl, but has no protection whatever when he sticks his head into a cave to shine his light on a hibernating bear and her cub.

Another short session and I've hit 2000 words. This is the biggest daily wordcount I've had since I started Operation Camilla. Time for another episode.


A wonderful look into jungle life. The bogans of the jungle are of course the monkeys. They screech a lot and produce nothing, but they seem to have a great deal of fun. The beauty prize, although hotly contested, goes to the jaguar. The adorableness prize goes to the various bats. Sir David once again showed his extreme courage, dangling by a thin piece of string 100 feet above the ground, and delivering several parts of his narrative from the top of a tree above the forest canopy.


I've had an immensely enjoyable day, and learned quite a lot in the process. Despite the four hours of television, I've attained a level of productivity today that has eluded me since I started this book. I've got over 2,000 words today, and while that isn't huge, if it's good enough for Stephen King, it's good enough for me.

The main thing I've drawn from this experience is that I do, indeed, work better in short bursts with other activities in between. Not just better productivity per minutes spent working, but actual better productivity over the day, even though I probably spent less time actually working. And I had fun! There's a big, big lesson here.

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