Friday, November 13, 2009

NaNoReVisMo #4: Tales from the Dumpster



INTERN's hippie roommate's trashier-than-thou friends from college have been visiting for the past few days, two very serious and scruffy anarchists who live in treehouses in Santa Cruz, from where they are plotting the "neo-anarchist ecorevolution".

Last night, they decided to go on a dumpster diving expedition, and hippie roommate kindly invited INTERN to tag along. And wow. Anyone concerned about enfeebled female heroines (see Rejectionist's post on this phenomenon) should write a YA book about INTERN's hippie roommate, the femme fatale of dumpters. She scaled chain-link fences three times her height, pried open locked dumpsters just widely enough to slip her (leaf-like) body inside, and hefted fifty-pound bags of rolled oats and slightly sprouting quinoa over brick walls—all while wearing a slinky red dress and blue tights which did not even get a run. (INTERN lolled along behind her in a giant black sweatshirt and tocque, looking like some kind of wannabe gangster and trying to make herself useful).

It was exhilerating and delightful and it felt so damn productive to harvest all that booty.

This morning, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend looked over said booty in the clear light of reason.

Techie Boyfriend: Those oats look good, but what are you going to do with thirty-six packets of wildberry glucose gel? Also, I think some of those artichokes are past their prime.

INTERN: Are you crazy? We're going to use all of it.

Techie Boyfriend: But those artichokes are

INTERN: They're still good! We FOUND them!

Techie Boyfriend: What are you going to do with sixty pounds of mouldy quinoa?


NaNoRevisioneers, as the booty of the dumpster, so the spoils of the first draft. Yes, it is a nice, satisfying, pile of words. Yes, you did go out and harvest it yourself. No, you are not allowed to hang on to every bit of it. Frankly, every bit of it is not worth keeping. And if you stay up all night trying to make a soup that will "use it all up" nobody will eat it (at least, not Techie Boyfriend).

That being said, there are enough shots of glucose gel to keep INTERN going for a week. ALL IS NOT LOST!


  1. Please tell me you've seen the dumpster-diving episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

  2. This is a wonderful analogy for first drafts. My problem is getting the excitement going when I can see the quinoa is sprouting and the artichokes are black.

  3. INTERN! Quit wasting time on this highly entertaining blog. You are standing (sitting?) on a graphic novel gold mine!! Get techie boyfriend to get going on the techie-animation and bring forth your super-hero: Dumsterdomatrix!!! (I'm out of exclamation points. But seriously, girl, get going.)

  4. Dear Intern:

    Your metaphors are felicitous... and funny.

    Send all NaNoWriMo survivors to my blog to run their query letters past the Doctor!

    That is all.

    Doctor Query

  5. I read a pretty long list of writing blogs every day, and I save yours for last because it's by far the most fun. Posts like this one are why.


  6. That is a fascinating, if slightly weirding out, analogy.

  7. Flipping genius.

    And you said "harvest all that booty."

    I like The Intern.

  8. Quinoa is great if you are looking for a gluten-free diet. Darn glutens. I need to tighten my glutens. Wait, that's not right.

    BTW, after your post about zen and self-publishing, dumpster-diving seems an appropriate segue.

  9. VERY good way to make your point, INTERN. I enjoy each and every one of your posts. They are entertaining, but they make important points in the process. Bravo.

  10. Great point. So far I've dumped about 98% of the NaNo writing I've done this month (but I saved it in another file just in case). Still, it was useful to get it out of my system and figure out what I should have written instead.

  11. I was reading Virginia Woolf today and I think she must've done some dumpster diving herself: “Let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.”

    And thanks for the links to The Rejectionist and Editorial Ass.

  12. I give your blog out whenever anyone asks for something new to follow-- entertaining.

  13. So where's the alleyway shopping too? Like, the aluminum cans are off limits. They're there for the homeless; cash recylables are their turf. But the furniture and appliances and clothing and building scraps and white elephants set out for the cart haulers and sanitary workers are fair game.

    Perfectly good lazy boy there but for the duct tape on the back and the missing legs, that piece of two-by-four and quarter sheet of plywood, those four concrete blocks, that toaster oven with the glass door that's a bit glazed with baked on grease. The Levi's that are too far holy gone for even the consignment boutique, patchwork for the taking. The bicycle with the missing rims, down the miles of alleyway there's a set of rims that'll do. No longer on the shank mare. The clockworks that are all that's left of a broken nicknack, paddy whack, give the frog a throne.

  14. Oh the wisdom that continues to sprout (see what I did there??) from the INTERN. I'm in the process of editing my manuscript and chopped with ruthless intensity after reading your post. Useless but pretty details and dialogue were excised in the revolution.

    Thanks again for spreading the wealth, if not the quinoa.

  15. Hilarious! How come stories ABOUT dumpster diving are usually more valuable than the found items themselves? My husband has a wealth of them. So does David Sedaris. Like NaNoWriMo, what a good tool for excitement, laughter, and prompting creativity. Like NaNoWriMo, what a good way to bury ourselves in crap we then have to get rid of. Brilliant. Now excuse me while I plug my nose, pry open the recesses of my subconscious, and root around for a few more words to add to my count.

  16. Forgive my ignorance, but I is English, what is dumpster? (A dump in my part of town is a place you dump stuff. i.e. a rubbish tip; also slang for a crap, therefore a dumpster could be someone sitting on the toilet.)

  17. I get it. It's a metaphor. Nicely done.

  18. You must know the children/younger siblings of my ecorevolutionary friends from Santa Cruz and San Francisco, lol. In SF, dumpster diving was a tradition!

  19. I can't believe hippie roommate didn't even run her tights O_o. She must be magic.

  20. More on the ecowarriors' treehouse antics, please...what do they do up there? if they are so self-sufficient living in nature, why do they need to pillage the city trash bins? How do they reconcile this disparity?

  21. Dot, a dumpster is a skip in the UK.

    Specifically, they were raiding the rubbish skip outside the supermarket.

    Your alternative meaning for dumpster- oh my! Dumpster diving just took a whole other direction.