First, I want to say happy Memorial Day.

My deepest gratitude goes out to all who have served their country.

I haven’t served my country in the military. It’s one of my big regrets. Instead, I was a Peace Corps volunteer, and let me just say that every time a US Marine showed up in my vicinity, it was because things were getting sketchy. (The country I served in was going through a period of political turmoil that sometimes turned violent.) One Marine told me that he thought I had guts to go out into the jungle alone and without any way to defend myself. Guts? Handing out mosquito netting and digging latrines takes guts? Yeah. No. I don’t think so. Coming in to fish my hippie ass out when things get gnarly? That’s what takes guts.

So thank you again to all of our soldiers, past and present. I couldn’t be a hippie without you.

I’m currently in the final stages of writing a novel loosely based on my experiences in Peace Corps. I’ve written around 400 pages, and I think I have around a hundred pages left to write.

I’ve never written a novel before...

… And I’m starting to feel a lot like this Pacific Giant Salamander. **

Sometimes, I don’t know whether I’m getting the better of the writing, or if the writing is getting the better of me.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Upon first glance, my novel project looked like a big, juicy, promising feast. But now that I’m in it, there are days when I feel like I’m bogged down with trying to chew my way through a slime-riddled pile of muck.

I’m stuck now, though.

I can’t go backwards…

…But going forwards seems impossible, too.

I’m suffocating, and now lines are getting blurred. Is the novel a part of me, or am I part of the novel?

There’s nothing for it. I go onward because I must. Slowly, ploddingly, excruciatingly, I fight.

And if I fight, I will gain. One step at a time.

One banana, two banana, three banana, four...

** I didn’t think ANYTHING ate banana slugs. If you’ve ever handled a banana slug, you’ll know why I (previously) thought they were inedible. When threatened, these slugs emit a viscous slime so sticky and thick, it makes slicing okra seem like a clean and tidy endeavor. I mean, banana slug mucus is REALLY gross, and it DOES NOT come off easily. If you get it on your hands, boots, clothes, whatever, you’d better hope you have some strong solvent on hand, because short of turpentine, you’re gonna be stuck with that slime. Literally. So when I saw this Pacific Giant Salamander devouring a banana slug around that thick coating of phlegm, I was truly impressed. Some people theorize that the salamander has high-salinity saliva which allows them to bite the banana slug’s head and hold on until the salt in their saliva dissolves the slug - this before the slug is able to secrete too much of its slug sludge. I’ve also heard that raccoons and possums will roll banana slugs in dirt to deactivate the mucus in order to make the slugs edible. All I can say about that is that there must be some really desperate raccoons and possums out there.


  1. Since this is your first novel writing experience, then this would qualify as a novel writing experience?

  2. I had no idea anything ate bananna slugs!
    Good pics and video.

    I'm working on my third book and still go through the agonies you describe when it comes to writing. It's an intense personal experience, especially when you're writing about a part of your own life.

    Can I put in an order in now for a copy before your rich and famous?

  3. As a proud Banana Slug (class of '94), I am shocked and offended by your post. Not all of us are slimy, gross, and inedible - just most of us.

  4. Nice post Jen. Maybe step back from the book for a little bit?

    Dave S. - I'm told that humans can enjoy banana slug chopped up and sauteed in a little garlic butter. "Tastes like clams only not as chewy" I'm told.

  5. Mitch, I love banana slugs - every gross, slimy, inedible bit of them, and that means you especially.

    Eric and Dave, your encouragement on writing the novel means a lot. Thanks you guys!