Writers: Do What You Need to Survive (and that’s write!)

Don’t know how many of you have self-imposed quotas, or minimum word counts for the day, week or month. Some well-established writers only pen five or six pages a day. I just wish my writing was that tight. I know if I don’t rough draft at least a chapter a day it feels as if everything else in my life is off-kilter. Normally I manage a bit more, typically two chapters or 5k words, or other writing in the form of outlines, queries, edits, synopses, etc; but the chapter minimum keeps me from twitching. Just remember: practice and repetition makes things easier, so write something every day.

Since I spend any time away from the laptop people watching, there’s never a shortage of possible material. Oh. And animals. That small spiral notebook I carry (Okay, Hubby does it since he has bigger pockets) is filled with fragmented jottings of plot, scene, situation, conversation, even interesting names. Written on my knee, the wall,or  Hubby’s back they may be difficult to transcribe and translate, but they’re there. Just a few pertinent situational words to help with recall. If one of the dogs gets hold of said notebook, the pertinent situational words turn the air blue while I employ Scotch tape to reconstruct it.

This week I’ve been collecting animal bits and pieces. Not of the animals themselves; just their activities and responses. I’m beginning to think brain damage may be a prerequisite to become my pet. Take the newest addition, Cochise, the pit bull rescue for example.  A sweeter, kinder dog doesn’t exist. But there’s not enough room on the bed for a sixty pound dog to pretend he’s a three-pound puppy. He’ll bounce and crouch and pounce and spin and flop, joyously stomping me to kingdom come (he thinks he has the grace and delicacy of a Toy Poodle), then try to run in circles. Invariably he runs right off the bed. I drag myself to the edge, hang over, and am met by the most confused “What the hell just happened?” expression ever worn by an upended canine. The sad part is he climbs right back up and does it again. And again. We’ve started keeping track of how many times he does it a night. His low is three. High is seven. That was the night Hubby cupped my face in his hands, looked me deep in the eyes and reasoned sadly yet gently, “You know there’s something really wrong with him, don’t you?”

I let the big dogs out at six every morning. The Blue Heeler and Golden Lab tear away shoulder to shoulder at full speed, like connected low flying rockets. They travel the yard in a huge sweeping arc while I dump the horse her feed. They’re on the return end of the loop to the pond and back about the time I’m walking back toward the house. The bucket comes in handy when they forget to watch where they’re going. It lends the illusion I’m in control of the situation if I flail away with it as I’m mowed down. They’re always sorry. I can tell by all the puppy kisses and bouncing they do on my back as I belly crawl for the peach tree to drag myself upright. And that Lab amazes me. She can squirt under a Suburban while running full tilt. Lays under there, paws over her muzzle laughing while the Heeler flops around on the ground from head-butting the door at 30 MPH.  Hubby has resorted to the bathroom plunger a few times to get the dent out.

My daughter has a sugar glider that lost a paw. What’s a sugar glider? Think nocturnal version of a flying squirrel. I peeked into Tutu’s cage (named thusly because she’s too, too cute and too, too loud) and saw what looked like a sleeping long-tailed chipmunk. I kept tempting her to leave her teepee with a piece of cheese. My “Good Lord!” was heartfelt, and I nearly plopped on my butt from jerking back when she popped her head out.  Being nocturnal, sugar gliders have big eyes. Really big eyes. Big googly eyes like you find on a pre-kindergartener’s rendition of a face. 

I learned first hand she transforms from chipmunk to a thick-tailed furry kite when she got out. It was a race to catch her before any of the two cats and two dogs did.  Four people stumble rapidly through several rooms (and into each other), leaping over furniture and booting cats and dogs back, usually with Rachel scrambling around shouting, “Dammit, Mama! Let her land on you so I can grab her!” I’m sorry, but it’s instinctive to duck if something with bug eyes and fluttery panels of skin stretched between its front and back legs launches itself at you from the top of the curtains. Tutu dive-bombs with the intensity and deadly accuracy of a kamikaze pilot. She could be shoosting mid-air straight for you so you’re yelling “I got her! I got her!” like an outfielder claiming a fly ball, and — poof  — fuzz her tail out like a mad cat, and the resultant drag from all that flared hair aids her in some freakish arial evasive maneuvers.

She finally landed on a bed. We got the door shut and a towel stuffed under it so she couldn’t get out. (She can flatten herself like a bat to fit beneath the door.) Seems her short stint of freedom inflated her sense of self. My son-in-law weighs about 260, yet this five or six-ounce creature stood on her back legs doing a spread-armed Frankenstein pose in challenge, shrilling at him like a falsetto-voiced hawk. Never dreamed it physically possible for that decibel of sound to come from something so tiny. Will just glared at her in disgust as she flared her ‘wings’ at him. “Really, Tutu?” he demanded as he grabbed and missed. Grabbed again. “Really?!?”

I know I’m going to use Tutu vs Will in a book one day. Think it’s the whole flea-on-an-elephant thing that appeals to me.

Y’all go get your writing done for today. I have a chapter to bang out so I’ll feel better!


PS Shadowz Paranormal Investigations is having a meet & greet, bake sale fundraiser, and is taking applications for investigators this Saturday, 4pm to 8pm, beside the Mystik Spirit New Age Store in Bay St. Louis. Come by and visit or ask questions. Remember applicants: You must have picture ID and be able to pass a background check!

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

4 Responses

  1. Another great story!! I love to laugh on Fridays with you!!

    5,000 words every day is awesome. I have spurts of that but usually only on a weekend.

  2. Woman, you work full time in a career heavy with responsibility and accountability, and write what I consider full time! I’m amazed at how well you manage both.

    Thanks for sharing laughter with me. It makes it special!

  3. As always, love the story. This one I can identify with. My daughter’s 72 pound boxer-pit mix who is visiting us for a while believes he’s a lapdog also. During the Repub debates, the one minute response buzzer sounded exactly like our doorbell. Bruiser went beserk whenever the timer rang. Unable to find the invader, he finally stood at alert at the entrance to the den, hair standing down his spine, determined to defend his territory. Then there’s the electronic blood pressure cuff, he growls at when I’m taking Mama’s BP. I know we’ll find it in pieces someday, if he can get to it. Rita Bay

    • Sounds as if Bruiser and Cochise may be related. I can just picture him bouncing around with the buzzer! It’s a comforting feeling to know you’re protected. Maybe not when Cochise defends against the dish towel hanging from the front of the oven door and we find it in itty bitty shreds. But at least he loves us and all the grandkids.

      I’m so glad your Mama is doing better. I enjoy visiting with her when she comes with you to meetings and conferences! She’s a jewel!

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