Walking is a good way for Mom to tidy up her head and make room for ideas.
There are always interesting things to investigate on a walk. We walk at lots of different parks,
and also the reservoir,
the 9/11 memorial,
and the playing field.
Writers pretend a lot. Mom deals with pretend characters every time she sits at the computer. Characters can be tough to pin down. Just when Mom thinks she knows them, they take off in directions she didn’t expect. They can go caveman,
I can also go off in unexpected directions. I can go lazy,
Mom keeps me on a leash everywhere we go, so I won’t go off and get lost. She does her best to keep me under control. Even though I am unpredictable, she does a better job with me than she does with her story characters.
Mom and I have been working hard.
Mom is working hard on two new stories, as usual.
She writes a little bit of each one each day. When she gets to the end of them, she will put them away for a while and then revise the heck out of them to make them tight with no extra words. She will make sure they open with action and end with a twist. She will try to show and not tell. She will move the characters from place to place and keep the action coming so they aren’t talking heads.
Then she will send her favorite one of them to her critique group friends to see what else she needs to work on.
I have been working hard too – at the library…
…and at the veteran’s home.
I have dressed up, listened to stories, sat on laps,
and given kisses. If you don’t think that’s hard work, think again. Sometimes I can barely stay awake on the ride home.
Besides my therapy work, I have begged for coffee. And it paid off.
I begged for a pancake on my 10th birthday. And got one of my very own.
I even fought the dreaded soccer net. Again. And won (with some help from Mom).
It’s a good thing I am a ball of energy…
Mom reads a lot. She reads picture books,
grown up books, blogs, websites, Instagram and Facebook posts,
kiddie magazines, and of course CATalogs. *shiver* I don’t know how to read, but people read to me a lot. Today, Mom and I are counting down about reading.
My Reading Countdown
3. Read-to-a-Pet-Night – Kids come to the library to read to me at Read-to-a-Pet-Night. Sometimes they read dog books, which make me very happy.
Sometimes they read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?. The purple cat scares me, but I try to be brave.
2. Waiting – When Mom is reading, I wait. Eventually, she finishes and then we play or cuddle or go to the park.
At Read-to-a-Pet-Night, I wait for a reader like a good girl – no crying, no playing with the other therapy pets, and no begging for treats when apparently I didn’t do anything to earn them.
8. Listening – When Mom works on her writing, she reads out loud to herself. I listen very carefully, in case there’s anything in there I need to know. Once, I heard the word “dog boots” which scared me because I hate my boots.
But it made me happy at the same time because it meant Mom was writing about a dog!
Mom’s Reading Countdown
3. Read-to-a-Pet-Night – Mom has fun at Read-to-a-Pet-Night. She loves hearing the kids read stories. It reminds her of her teacher days, but without any of the teacher stress or responsibility.
2. Picture books – Mom reads 200 picture books every year. She rates them and keeps count of them on her Goodreads page. Sometimes she reads them at Barnes and Noble.
Sometimes she brings them home from the library and reads them our house. I help her choose the best ones.
74. Listening – Mom is always listening for story ideas. She listens extra hard to moms and kids. She learns names, interests, slang, quirks, and speech patterns from them. She never knows when something will kick in and give her a new story idea. Meanwhile, I can give her all the story ideas she needs…
Stories should always include the unexpected – unexpected events, unexpected characters or characters traits, unexpected plot twists, and of course unexpected endings. Mom is working on endings to three stories right now, and she’s revising two more stories at the same time. That’s a LOT of surprises, but predictably, she’s plugging along and trying not to be predictable.
Things in my life are always unexpected. Mom says it’s because my brain is so tiny, it can’t store things from the past. So every day, I act like I was just born. Personally, I think that’s a GREAT way to live!
When I smell bacon, I can’t always remember how to find the source of it. Where can it be? In the car? Across the street? Bacon mystery…. Hmmm….
Mom bought me a new blanket-bed. It seemed easy enough to figure out the first day.
Then I forgot how it worked.
My positions are unexpected, but any way I twist it – it works. Confusing blanket-bed…. This seems right….
This past weekend, I was surprised to discover that I was going along on an unexpected road trip to Mom’s BFF’s yard sale.
No wonder my travel crate was in the living room for a couple of days.
We got to play outside in the yard for a long time, and then I rested in the shade on the porch.
And VERY predictably, I napped all the way home. Surprise road trip… Yay…
Lots of times, Mom drives through McDonald’s and gets me an ice cream cone.
Actually, she gets it for herself, but she shares it with me.
Some days at the drive thru, things get unpredictable and we drive out with a salad! Or coffee!! Or a cup of oatmeal!!!
Usually, unpredictability is good. Sometimes it’s bad. Very, very bad.
Sometimes, when Mom writes a story, it’s not the story she meant to write. When stories jump from her head to her hands to her computer, bad things can happen.
The stories can go on and on and on. And on. The plot can go off track. The focus can go away…
… and then come back again.
And then go away again.
Characters can refuse to do what she wants them to do. BAD things can happen.
The story from Mom’s brain might be in there somewhere, but it’s hidden. When Mom gets to the end, she says, “It’s twice as long as it should be.” and “This sounded better in my head.” and “Where’s your other boot?”
It snowed last weekend in my neighborhood. EVERYTHING was hidden under 28 inches of that cold, white stuff. I was hidden under the hood of my pink parka.
My beautiful paws were hidden in boots to protect them from cold. And rock salt.
A sofa near the dumpster was hidden under a snow drift.
After a couple of days, I found some grass that was hidden near a disconnected snowplow that was hidden behind a building.
A long time ago, I found a soggy potato chip bag hidden under the snow. So far, try as I might, I haven’t found any buried food.
Maybe when Mom is finished searching for the elusive, amazing story from her head, we’ll take a walk and see if there’s an elusive, amazing McDonald’s wrapper hidden under the snow. Or maybe I’ll just rest for a little while…
Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
Mom shows continuous effort in her writing. I guess writing for a little while each day is continuous effort…
Just when she thinks she’s getting better, somebody tells her the word, “Too easy.” and “Not enough conflict.” and “The solution came too fast.” She’s using her continuous effort to listen and change the way her stories end. And to unlock her potential. Life needs to be tougher for Mom’s characters.
Not so with me. Life is tough enough for this doggie! Exhibit A – My PupJoy subscription box came the other day. Right on my birthday!
It was filled with toys, treats, and surprises. I looked closely…
and I sniffed and sniffed,
but the box remained closed up tight.
When Mom saw my helpless-hopeless-hapless-face, she got the box open and gave me the goodies. That guy, Winston has the right idea. I didn’t need any strength or intelligence at all to get that done.
I think responsive is overrated. Look how cute I look!
No strength or intelligence needed here.
Watch me walk nicely, like a good girl, right next to Mom. Continuous effort…. Potential unlocked!