Ode to November (and a Call-Out to Fellow Authors)

Anyone familiar with the northeastern United States in general, and Vermont in particular, may find the idea of an ode to November puzzling.  After all, November “up here” is one of the darkest months of the year.  The mercury consistently dips below freezing, and the foliage that lit the hillsides with red, gold, burnt-orange, and copper has long since fallen, shedding the hardwoods of their leaves and turning the woodlands into a stark and barren landscape.  And yet.  And yet . . . it is that very starkness, that very lack, that gives November its austere and minimalist charm.


The lush undergrowth of July, the tangles and brambles and the seemingly limitless expanse of all the green, growing things that, not so long ago, overcrowded the natural landscape, have vanished, crumbling to dried organic matter that will merge with the soil, slumber awhile, and spring forth in the new year to come.  For now, in this cold, quiet month of November, there are only the grays and the browns, the absence of, the empty spaces among the trees, the wind whispering through the gaps, the penetrating screech of a hoot owl under a dark and cloudy night sky.


And I love it.  I am here for it.  The deep frosts and snowdrifts of January have yet to overtake the land.  The natural world seems almost in a state of limbo, of waiting, of transitioning away from one season and meandering, slowly, shyly, perhaps reticently, toward another.  In this stripped-down landscape, I am reminded of some things.  Things that deal with the craft of writing.


When I was a college student, back in the last, gasping years of the twentieth century, I was drawn to the ornate, flowery language of the Victorians.  Bronte, Dickens, Hardy, Montgomery, and Eliot–I read them all.  No one will dispute the brilliance of these literary titans.  They rank among the best, without question.  But it can also be stated that Victorian authors, to put it delicately, were rather liberal with the amount of words they used to convey a message.  A modern-day editor very well might snip thousands of words from a Victorian-styled manuscript if said manuscript were submitted in 2019 by an aspiring author.


Don’t get me wrong.  I am still as big a fan as ever when it comes to the classics.  But over the years, I’ve learned the importance of snipping, cutting, pruning, and, as they say, killing your darlings.  While it would be fun to write four-hundred-word sentences and pepper dialogue attributions with adverbs, it would be over-the-top for a twenty-first-century audience.  Surely there is a middle ground for writers, like me, who enjoy compound-complex sentences, the occasional flowery turn of phrase, and who don’t always concern themselves with word count as they might!


This is why the month of November serves as a gentle reminder.  Looking into the woods, swept clean of leaves and berries and bushes, I think of William J. Strunk’s directive in his Elements of Style:  “Omit needless words.”  To be sure, what words are needless and what words are needed is a subject ripe for debate.  But the lesson is noted, nonetheless, and November serves as the natural world’s analogy.


All this to say . . . readers of this blog have probably observed that posts have been coming fewer and further between in recent months.  This is, in part, due to the amount of freelance work I have undertaken as an editor and proofreader.  What once was a “side gig” is rapidly becoming a full-time job!  Not that I’m complaining.  I enjoy the work, and relish the opportunity to provide a valuable service to fellow writers and content creators.


You will notice a new Page on this website: Freelance Editing and Proofreading Services.  Please consider this post (and the concomitant new Page) an invitation, a call.  If you would like a professional writer and editor, an old English major, and a proud grammar nerd to assist you with your work–be it a blog post, an article, a technical report, or a novel you are in the final stages of polishing for publication–I am here and eager to help.


Hopefully longtime readers of this site will know that I am uncomfortable soliciting work or sales of my novels.  Self-promotion does not come easily for me.  I thank you for your indulgence, and I do hope very much to work with many of you on your writing and publishing endeavors.  More than anything, thank you for your years of support of The Eye-Dancers blog.  I may not post as often as I once did, but I’m still here and intend to stick around for the long haul.

In this season of thanksgiving, I thank the month of November for its simple reminders.  And I thank each and every one of you for your support over the years.


Thanks so much for reading!




47 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Visionariekind
    Nov 27, 2019 @ 18:03:20

    beautiful as always


  2. ParentingIsFunny
    Nov 27, 2019 @ 18:21:15

    Editing and cutting words is one of my favorite things to do, too. Love the apostrophes comic. 🙂 Gorgeous pictures.


  3. kimberlywenzler
    Nov 27, 2019 @ 18:53:49

    Beautiful pictures. And I’ll note your services for the future. Thank you!
    Happy Thanksgiving.


  4. Christy B
    Nov 27, 2019 @ 19:47:18

    Well done with growing your freelance biz, my friend!


  5. joannerambling
    Nov 27, 2019 @ 23:04:11

    So lovely


  6. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Nov 28, 2019 @ 00:17:40

    Glad to hear you are successfully branching out! All the best and Happy Thanksgiving 🙂


  7. Lyn
    Nov 28, 2019 @ 08:18:37

    “You’ll go far, young man.” All the very best with the new venture, Mike 😀


  8. ritaroberts
    Nov 28, 2019 @ 13:05:03

    Wonder post with Gorgeous pictures of your country. Good luck with your new venture. I will keep you in mind for when I need proof reading carried out. Many thanks..


  9. ritaroberts
    Nov 28, 2019 @ 13:05:41

    Sorry I mean WONDERFUL


  10. joliesattic
    Nov 28, 2019 @ 16:19:00

    The life I always dreamed of. Beautiful pictures to complement your words.


  11. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Nov 29, 2019 @ 21:14:43

    Big congrats on taking the step forward, Mike. Doing what you love, makes life easy and fun. Thanks for sharing your pictures.


  12. Stephanae
    Dec 01, 2019 @ 22:29:03

    Your writing never disappoints Mike! The way you’ve described November brings back fond memories when we were living in simpler times. It’s good to know you provide proofreading/editing services, I’ll be sure to keep you in mind for future projects.


  13. Lara/Trace
    Dec 01, 2019 @ 23:19:03

    I still have my college copy of Elements of Style! Mike, you are inspiring!


  14. Alexis Chateau
    Dec 02, 2019 @ 08:55:46

    Wishing you all the best on this new journey! Welcome back to full-time freelancing/full time independent contract work.

    By the way, I read Far from the Madding Crowd. It’s a strange but interesting book. I’m currently reading the last one Hardy ever wrote.


  15. magarisa
    Dec 03, 2019 @ 12:46:55

    I also love November. Glad to hear you’re getting so much editing/proofreading work these days!


  16. K E Garland
    Dec 05, 2019 @ 01:10:48

    As a fellow blogger, editor, and full-time job haver, I can relate. Best of luck with your new work!


  17. Ste J
    Dec 05, 2019 @ 10:29:14

    I find myself enjoying Hardy and Dickens with their wayward wording. I like to mix the old and the new, sometimes its wonderful just to appreciate the words for their own sake. I think that’s why the older authors endure in part. That and the fact they are, as you say, titans.


  18. Sherri Matthews
    Dec 09, 2019 @ 13:36:41

    Hi Mike, and congratulations on your new freelance editing and proofreading role! I will certainly keep my ear to the ground and send any business your way as and when. I’ve been away from blogging since early October myself, working on agent submission packages and it has taken a long, long time. Let’s see what happens. Meanwhile, know I will always keep in touch here. And as for Thomas Hardy, I am excited to tell you I visited Max Gate, his home, recently. I live in ‘Hardy’ country, though ‘Wessex’ is now carved into Dorset and Somerset. It’s owned by The National Trust and left as it was when he and his wife (wives) lived there. I am a huge fan of his books, Far from the Madding Crowd especially. Though the style, I agree, is quite different! I hope to post about it, but it won’t be until the new year. All the best as always, Mike, in your new endeavours. I’ll check out your new page 🙂


    • The Eye-Dancers
      Dec 12, 2019 @ 12:11:22

      Thanks so much, Sherri! That is exciting that you recently visited Max Gate.:) I hope to visit someday as well. And yes, that would be fabulous to work with you on projects, Sherri! Or work with anyone you know who you might refer to me.:) I very much hope that happens! Thanks again, and I hope your holiday season is going great!


      • Sherri Matthews
        Dec 12, 2019 @ 18:19:10

        Thanks, Mike, likewise, and I’ll keep you posted! I really hope you get to visit Max Gate, you will find it absolutely fascinating. A crazy busy but great holiday season, thanks, and hope for you too! Not long now 🙂

  19. Karina Pinella
    Dec 18, 2019 @ 04:19:05

    May you do well in your blossoming sideline.


  20. Anna Waldherr
    Dec 22, 2019 @ 19:43:37

    Have a wonderful Christmas!


  21. kutukamus
    Jan 02, 2020 @ 07:29:09

    Having never heard of ‘killing your darlings’, now I like it already! But wait, is that..?? Hahaha!! Smiths Fruit’s & Vegetables’ This one sure is a killer itself! 🙂


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