Freewrite 10/26/20 (Demon Dog continued)

Of course, at the time, we didn’t know Demon Dog urine was the most potent acid this world had ever seen. But now that I do know it, I make sure to be attentive when she’s inside or at a dog park, or in the car–or pretty much anywhere.

But that first time in the garage of my parents’ home, the spot where she peed hissed and smoked and ate right through the concrete floor. I was little, so I didn’t really understand. But once they made sure the puppy was safe for me they picked it out of the little cage they’d wrapped around the spot in the garage. I remember how snuggly it was. Sure, Demon Dog might sound like a dog that isn’t really a dog and more of demon, but, to tell you the truth, Demon Dogs, and puppies especially, mostly behave like regular dogs. The only difference is the consequences of them biting people. . . well–I’ll get to that.

We named her Ashley, and for a couple years everything was pretty great. Sure, we’ve have slip-ups. Like when I was carrying her when she was sitting on my lap when I was 4 and she was asleep and just couldn’t hold it in. Only a drop or two came out, but they left my favorite sweatshirt ruined. Then, there was a the time she wandered into dads office. I was probably 10 by then, and Ashley was 7 in human years and 49 in dog years. She closed the door on herself and couldn’t get out. She’s always been smart. You can see it in here eyes and brows when she’s trying to puzzle something out. The way she looks at things from different angles. Regardless, nothing she could do in my dads office could make up for a lack of apposable thumbs. She went crazy. Started chewing on just about everything within reach. When we found her, we didn’t find the cords to the computers mauled through, or my dad’s filing cabinet dented. No. We found ash. She was still chewing on the leg of the table when we opened the door. As we watched, the table slowly turned to ash in her mouth and she let it fall on the ground. The whole office looked as though it had spontaneously combusted, but without spreading to the rest of the house.

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.