In which we learn two old yarns about elephants.

Eating an Elephant

There’s an old adage that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. It’s a somewhat gory reminder that large and daunting tasks can be handled in smaller chunks. Be it cleaning out your garage or writing that next masterpiece of prose kicking incessantly on the inside of your skull to get out, you can accomplish the feat in small steps. Every novel is typed one letter at a time. Well, except for ones written in shorthand, or Chinese. One of the techniques NaNoWriMo encourages participants with is the daily goal. Fifty thousand words is a big elephant, but sixteen hundred and change is a reasonable goal.

Paper Barriers

I remember in my youth hearing a story that an elephant could be stopped by a large and high wall made of plain paper. The elephant, unfamiliar with the flimsy material, assumes the large structure is solid and immovable, and turns away from it.  Or maybe it was that the elephant couldn’t see what was on the other side of the paper, so didn’t take the risk. I cannot find this on the internet, so it’s probably true. The takeaway here is that many of the barriers that seem daunting are just as flimsy as a piece of paper, so push forward. The unknown on the other side could be freedom.

If you want to motivate yourself by being literal, take this picture I drew of an elephant and print it on a piece of paper, and cut it out. That should be easy, since it’s a circle. Get a grown-up to help if you need to. Don’t worry about being perfect; the rough edges give it character. You’ve now released your elephant from the paper barrier. If you want to cut the elephant into tiny pieces and eat it, that’s up to you.  If not, you can keep the paper elephant to  remind you of these valuable lessons. Elephants never forget, right?

Email me photos of you and your freed elephant! JPLOSIER [at] is my email address, and the subject should be “Elephant”.  While you’re doing that, I’ll find a prize to give away to one of the first hundred pictures received between now and March first. So, hurry!

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