Free-write, 5/29/20

If you’ve grown up without a demon-dog, I envy you. I didn’t know it was such a rare thing back when I was a kid, but apparently little girls and some little boys grow up without a demon-dog, but with just normal dogs. That doesn’t seem fair to me–but there you have it.

So, you might be askin’ yourself what’s a demon-dog and how did I, of all people, get one? After all, I’m just a normal person, like you or your mom, or your granddad, or you best friend. Yep. I’m just like you. The only difference other than that, is I have a demon-dog.

Here’s some history–and this is only stuff I learned after-the-fact.

Demon-Dog: A Demon-Dog is born just as any other puppy is. The first Demon-Dog was born during the Spanish Inquisition in Granada, Spain. Nobody knows why, but there are some pretty good guesses. Like, all the horrible torture and death and persecution drew a Demon-Dog to the mortal plain, I guess. And once there was one Demon-Dog puppy here and it discovered how fun and chewy everything is, well–more followed, I guess.

My Demon-Dog came on Christmas. Fitting, right? I was young then, like a little kid full of bright eyed curiosity and my parents put a bunch of presents under the tree that night–but they weren’t for me. They’d thought it’d be funny to make me open a bunch of dog toys and be confused–they’d never mentioned getting a dog and I just looked at the ropes and chewies and asked them what they were for and they told me they were good to play with and chew on so I put the rope in my mouth and they told me to shake it so I did and it wasn’t very fun and hurt my jaw a little bit so I took it out and put it down and started to cry because all I wanted was a body paint set so I could paint myself pink like a Tiefling like the one daddy played as with his friends every Sunday. I wanted to be a Tiefling child so bad and have little horns and pink skin and a devil tail. . . I know–I know. Maybe I deserve my lot.

Anyway–after all the dog toys had been opened, which included a dog bed that was way too large for a puppy but much to small for me, and that my parents told me was MY new bed and made me try to lie down in it, they told me to go out to the garage. I did and they followed as I waddled along and they opened the door for me into the lit garage and there she was. My puppy. My Demon-Dog, though I didn’t know it yet. She was cute and stinky, because she had peed on some puppy pads and I didn’t notice or understand by my parents were a little confused how her urine had melted the pad through and even made holes in the concrete.

Freewrite, 5.19.20

What makes bad writing? Something that is poorly written can vary in its failure to communicate effectively. Obviously, as a teacher in the public school system, I see lots of poorly expressed ideas on the written page. But they are not all poor for the same reason. Some may have run sentences and comma splices. Others have misspelled words and incorrect word use. Many will simply struggle to organize their thoughts in a cohesive manner, i.e. organizing sentences to build off one another to create full paragraphs and so pages of visualized thoughts and expression.
This last issue is the truest killer of a good writer, I believe. It isn’t enough to write properly punctuated sentences and use the correct spelling (and correct words) as you write (though of course, you need to have these aspects of the written language in your grasp if you are to move forward). You must present ideas in a manner that promotes continuity. This could be seen as a linear expression: 12345. This is to say, sentence 1 gives way to sentence 2, sentence 1 and 2 give way to sentence 3, each new sentence being the logical conclusion of the sentences (thoughts) that came before it.
Sure, this may work well in an argumentative or persuasive essay. But what about fiction–or even poetry? Certainly, this applies to fiction, though in a multitude of different ways depending on the aspect of fiction one is writing at any given moment. For instance, a moment of character development may look like this:
As she stood there, on the break of all she’d ever wanted, Mia realized it had all been a game. A game she had been roped into, trussed and tied. That was the tightness in her guts. They weren’t snakes–snakes would want to escape that place. No these were deep and gnarled roots that told her the things she’d always wanted wasn’t worth having–and neither was she.
Now, hopefully, each of my sentences seemed like a logical progression to what had come before. But how strange would it be if we got halfway through this aspect of emotional plot and then the linear nature was abandoned:
As she stood there, on the break of all she’d ever wanted, Mia realized it had all been a game. She took a lick of her popsicle and smiled. A game she had been roped into, trussed and tied. That was the tightness in her guts. . .
As you can see there is a sentence in there that throws the whole continuity of the moment off. Mia may indeed smile at her realization of this game she has played, and she may even be eating a popsicle but would it not be more fitting to put in a detail that reflects her own conundrum. Sure, she smiles at her revelation–but she’s so caught up in it that she suddenly feels a cold trickle down her hand and now her popsicle sloughs off the stick and onto the ground. Why would Mia smile? Exasperation. Perhaps relief. But the action of the popsicle melting and landing on the ground will mirror Mia’s sense of disenchantment far more than a slight smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. As most readers know, smiles can be sad as well as happy.

Freewrite, 5.18.20

When he woke up he knew how to sing and dance and place his guitar, but he couldn’t drive a car.
The doctors told him he’d suffered a rare condition, known as snufolofogus or something that sounded like an animal with a trunk for a nose.
What he could do were all the things he remembered enjoying. What he couldn’t do were the things he’d despised. He came home with his wife and daughter and they were nice and kind and made him food and when he was done they put him to bed, and even let him drink some juice beforehand. It was hard to fall asleep–maybe because he couldn’t stop thinking about how nice the sun felt on his skin as they left the hospital, or maybe because they’d said he’d been asleep for almost two weeks in a comma or something that sounded like punctuation. In any case, he lay in bad that first night back home and watched the shadows creep around on the wall–but luckily none reached for him.
Later, when things had calmed down and he’d moved in with family–his brother–his wife and daughter too, he became aware that people didn’t tell him how nice his smile was, the way he told them. Their smiles were all always so nice. Bright with white lights.
He had a planner that he wrote down memories in. That is, he wrote down what he was doing and where he should be, because if he didn’t he forgot and then people–well, they weren’t mad at him, but it made people frustrated–he thought.
But with the planner, it was like an external memory. He could keep all the things he couldn’t remember in there. He could remember which street he lived on and he could also remember where he had been and when.
But then they took his external memory away. He didn’t know why. He’d liked the planner. He’d liked his pen. They gave him a small screen with a calling mechanism and games. He liked the games. But the screen was so small he didn’t like typing on it to keep track of the places he was supposed to be and when.
He played solitaire because that was how he felt. He knew the rules of solitare. They were simple. The computer even corrected him if he forgot the rules. It wasn’t like real cards where you didn’t know if you had placed the 5 of spades here or the queen of hearts there. It was all laid out for you. The planner couldn’t have done this game–but it could have let him write what he wanted.
Then there was the big virus. Not like thing Snufolofgus. It was more like a flu and this was years later too. years and year–he thought. But still very serious. Not for him, but for others. But he couldn’t quite understand what happened to be people when they got it, other than the fact that they wore masks everywhere they went.