Monday, August 15, 2011

Eat your Humble Pie and Shut Up.

I've been thinking about this word a lot lately because, well, it's what my main character deals with. Over and over again. (And for those of you that know Daria Jones, my little obstinate heroine, you might see what inspired Character Flaw #1: Apparent lack of humility.)

Here. I'll give you an example. I like examples.

Every year for about five years, the hubby and I would hike Half Dome. If you know what Half Dome is, you might think I'm insane. If you don't, know that it's a hike in Yosemite National Park, a little over 8 miles one way with the last 400 yards being up the side of a steep granite wall with only cables for support, and an overall 4500' elevation gain. (you might think I'm insane now, too.)

No really, it's fun. I promise.

As I was saying, every year the hubby and I would go, and every year we would "take" different people. And one of those years we brought someone - let's call our anonymous hiker Jill. Jill is one of those insufferable know-it-alls. A one-upper. You had a great weekend? Well, hers was better. But I digress...

Weeks before the hike, when THE one and only Experienced Hiker (aka me) was planning, Jill already knew everything, had thought of everything, and had so much wisdom to impart I was about ready to tell her we weren't going. I don't know, maybe the campground flooded or a group of bears recently attacked or a hurricane was coming (?). ANYTHING. (Know anyone like that? Yeah. Not fun.)

But rather than fabricate some excuse, I do something else. (Because I'm so smart. I'm experienced.) I decide to invite a secret weapon: Humility. Besides, I'm the one that had hiked it before. Humility would back me up.

Day of hike. Wake up at 5am and get moving (ignoring early-morning advice from Jill while talking myself out of pushing Jill over a waterfall). "Jill will see how tough the hike is." I smile to myself. "And then Humility will shut her up. She'll see."

Three miles in and Jill still won't stop talking about how smart she is. I'm wishing Humility would show up already and throw Jill down, but Humility is no where to be found. And I'm not feeling so good. Probably because I'm so annoyed.

And then this happens (ahem):

Jill: "You're not looking so good."
Me: *rolls eyes inwardly* *smiles* "I'm fine." *looks around for Humility to do said deed*
Jill: "No, you're pretty pale. Did you need to rest? I don't mind waiting for you."
Me: *fights urge to push Jill in river* "Really, I'm fine."

Then I finally see Humility on the trail, all decked out in camo. FINALLY! But what does Humility do?


It goes ninja.

It kicks out my legs and spits in my face (also known as passing out beside a waterfall). My hearing fades, my vision turns black and...

*Enter hot knight in shining REI gear, aka Ben*

When I finally came to, Jill frowns. "I told you that you shouldn't eat cookies for breakfast." By then I was too embarrassed to be angry.

Humility is shifty. (It's also closely related to Blow to the Pride.) While you're waiting for Humility to assassinate someone else, it'll most likely go ninja on YOU!

Maybe instead of eating cookies in the morning, next time I'll have a slice of humble pie. And shut up. :)

Have any similar experiences where Humility went ninja on you? And for you authors, which life experiences inspired your characters?

**FYI: NONE of the below photos are from The Year of Jill. This is an entirely different trip, with VERY fun people :)**

View from "almost" top of cables

Half Dome

Those aren't ants. Those are people. (Tall guy is Ben. He's talking to our friend, Nathanael)

Final ascent...Sierras in background

Me (i'm in front) and Misty on the cables of death - and we're so happy!

The spray by Vernal Falls (I'm in the green poncho)

*If you like YA Fantasy, check out my book, GAIA'S SECRET. The sequel is coming soon!


  1. I don't remember giving you permission to take my daughter hiking with you. You can't tell her anything she doesn't already know.

  2. That's a good story, I bet you could make it into a pretty neat short story:) I've also encountered humility in a similar way while climbing a mountain, but almost lost my life in the process, so I'm more embarrassed about it now;)

  3. Awesome pics… and wonderful story, I felt like I was there.
    I have not be humbled like that—thank the light, but I do know the kind of person you’re talking about.
    I am glad you made it home safe and sound… experiences like that are good reminders.
    Thx for sharing

  4. That's a great story and a perfect example of humility being sneaky. :) Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos! Wow. I'm not badass enough to do that hike, so yay for vicarious experiences! :D

  5. Great story Barbara, thanks for sharing one of life's lessons with us. It is a good reminder for me.

  6. HAHAHA! This is a great post! Don't we ALL know a Jill or two in life [eye roll!]

    Also... the morbid curiosity in me wants to know if anyone has ever died after straying away from said cables of death...

  7. Those pictures are intense!

    The first time I ever went to a critique session. Boy. Talk about humble pie. Made me rethink my writing career, and myself as a person.

    Awesome post, Barbara!

  8. Norma - Glad you enjoyed it! It's always a good reminder for me, too ;D

    Julie - Three cheers for morbid curiosity! Um, yes, unfortunately, they have. About a dozen every year :( One year when we were there, on our way back down helicopters were flying overhead because someone fell off.

    David - Ugh. Critique sessions! That'll do it to you like nothing else. I can definitely empathize!

  9. HA! What a great post. I can't think of many times when humility hasn't gone ninja on me LOL! I always seem to stumble around blindly:) I would say that reading the MS of an extremely talented writer - especially a first draft and having it blow me away will really do it. Great post!

  10. *it's me...blogger is not being nice*

    Lindsay - Thank you! And gosh, no kidding! Always a humbling experience when you witness someone else's superior talents :D (though I'm thinking you would be one of those form me)

  11. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  12. Ouch! How painful! But your photos are terrific.

  13. Those pictures inspire me.

    To go to the beach. Less climbing. :)

  14. Thanks, Lola!

    Beth - Thank WAS painful, but so worth it!

    Chris - Ha!! The beach does sound nice right about now...

  15. I can't think of a time when humility has gone ninja on me . . . but I've known people like that. :P

    It sounds like a fun hike to me--great pictures!

  16. Hahaha! Very well told story. LOVED IT! I can't even think of a single example of when Humility went ninja on me. Apparently, I am REALLY good at suppressing those kinds of things. :)

  17. Wow. That looks like an AMAZING experience!

    I always confuse Half Dome with El Capitan, but I probably won't anymore.

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