Old Dog, New Tricks

Our oldest dog, who turned fifteen in April, has apparently developed Canine Dysfunction Syndrome. It’s a not uncommon ailment of geriatric pooches. Call it the canine version of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately for us, it manifests in sustained barking in the middle of the night, for apparently no reason other than to feel alive, get the humans he can’t hear anymore to show they’re still in the house and maybe go sniff the air in the backyard. There’s not all that much we can do about it – at some point one of us is going to have to take some valium, either the dog or Mrs Thomson and I. Considering that he’s still healthy, other than being deaf and suffering some lameness in a rear leg, we could be living with the demented dog for a long time yet. Scratching the yippy guy behind the ears last night, it occurred to me that some day, I’ll likely be just as annoying to whoever ends up being my caregiver when I’m a senile old coot, and that thought did give my patience a boost. We don’t know how long he’ll be with us – I’ve always said that he’s the kind who’ll go fast, unlike his sister who we saw decline over the better part of a year before she reached the end.

I can’t say that the sleepus interruptus hasn’t impacted my writing because it has. It’s a bit harder to rev up the old authorly engines when you’re yawning all the time. Nonetheless, I’m almost one-fifth into the first draft of the third Dunmoore adventure. As with my previous books, I went down the wrong track at first, though this time I realized it much earlier than before. I guess it’s something that I have to do – start telling a story until I can figure out it wasn’t quite the story I wanted to tell, so that I can find the right one. When I was writing The Path of Duty, I didn’t get to the point of realization until I had 110 pages written, half of which I ended up having to toss out, setting me back almost a month. I always know when I’m not happy with what I’m creating: after days or weeks of frenetic work, things grind to a halt and no amount of self-prodding gets me going again. At least I seem to be getting better at not investing too much effort before waking up to the fact that I need to re-orient myself. I was only at page 65 when it dawned on me earlier this week that what I was writing wasn’t quite right, and I can reuse pretty much all of it with the appropriate modifications to reorient the storyline. I suppose I should be glad that an old dog like me can still learn new tricks, even if it takes me a while.

 

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