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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Writing is Like a Puppy, Part 1

(I say "Part 1" because I'm sure I'll find more reasons why writing is like a puppy.)

Reason why Pippa reminds me of writing (and therefore inadvertently makes me feel bad for not taking full advantage of her nap time to write) #1:

I train her. I do. For a good twenty minutes at a time (because, let's face it, puppy attention span = OOOO LOOK SHINY SQUEAKY THINGS). For the past, oh, four weeks we've been working on the same command. "Come." Four weeks. I know she knows what it means; corgis are notorious for being easy to train. She was housebroken the first week we got her, at about 6 weeks old. And when we do train, she gets very excited when I say the word "come" and it registers in her little puppy head. She leaps forward with boundless energy and excitement and sits patiently-- er, she sits at my feet and gives me that "I did good! Give me a treat give me a treat givemeatreat" look. And I, proud mother that I am, give her the treat and congratulate her and she skips away, happy as a, well, puppy.

But then. Oh, then. A few hours later, I stand by the door and she's a few feet from me. I take the leash ever so slowly from its resting place and hold it behind my back. Then, praying, I say "Pippa, come." She looks at me, looks at my hands behind my back, and blinks. If she could talk: "No way in hell, momma. Respectfully."

I sigh. Again. "Pippa, come."

Another blink. This time, she crouches down and growls. "Um, no. Really, no."

This goes on for a few minutes until, as though invisible forces are dragging her across the carpet, she comes to me and I put her leash on. The breeder forgot to mention that Corgi translates as "stubborn" in Welsh.

So, how does this relate to writing? Well a story, at first, will seem to be entirely submissive. Everything flows great. The plot, the characters. Everything works. You're a proud mama (or papa), and life is good.

But then. Oh, then. You wake up one morning to find your characters aren't quite as cooperative as they were the day before. They just don't WANT to go through with that particular plot thread, no matter how many times you reassure them that it really isn't such a bad thing. Sure, you can force them to go through with it (after spending a few hours chasing them around the living room while the neighbors scratch their heads and wonder what has happened to the poor, crazy girl who lives next door-- wait, wrong part of the analogy). But it always works out so much better if you spend a few days waiting for them to WANT to go through with that plot thread in their own way, even if that means changing it up. They learn to overcome whatever you wanted them to overcome, and you get the story to continue.

There is one major difference though that makes stories and characters far more appealing than puppies -- teeth. Ow.

(I had to attach a video, just cuz. She's stubborn, but she's still cute.)


Natalie Whipple said...

Aw, that is one freaking cute puppy! And yes, characters can be oh-so-stubborn. Danie was very much a Corgi.

Mariah Irvin said...

Ohmygoodness this is an adorable puppy! Extreme jealousness.

Sara Raasch said...

Ooo Nat that gives me a good idea for an interesting comparison post -- "Which dog breed is your character?" Haha ;)

Mariah -- Don't be too jealous. She's been mean for the past two days. Those days aren't so much fun.

Renee Collins said...

Ohh! Cute little puppy bark! Love that. :)

And I definitely agree with your analogy.