Sunday, June 6, 2010

writing and canine criticism--year one

In honor of my first year of blogging. Here's my first post.

Last week my Old English Sheepdog, Merlin, pulled some of the manuscript pages of my latest WIP from my desk and began to eat them. Merlin, like most dogs, is adept at non-verbal communication. Of course he is also, another noble trait of the canine, notoriously good-natured and non-judgmental. I wondered what could have driven him to such uncharacteristic and extreme criticism.

After I managed to wrench the somewhat chewed but readable manuscript pages out of Merlin’s toothy grip, I started to read them. A growing uneasiness began at the nape of my neck and spread and that uneasiness became queasiness and that queasiness became despair. It was, alas, all wrong. Started in the wrong place. Went on too long here and not long enough there. Most importantly the life, somehow, had been squeezed out of it and the characters moved as if they were clueless stick figures rather than living creatures.

Merlin was right.

So though I am going to write about writing in this blog, and though I’ve written a lot of words and sentences and pages and have learned, maybe, a few things that might be of some small use to beginners, the truth is no writer, on any given day, really knows more than a sheepdog happily chewing away on a manuscript. And what we know on any given day is sort of a stab at the truth. Another day we might feel differently. I should probably end everything I say about writing with—Or so I think today.

That’s a good idea.

Or so I think today.


Anna Staniszewski said...

Hooray on your first year of blogging! And I have to say that I just love this line:
"No writer, on any given day, really knows more than a sheepdog happily chewing away on a manuscript."

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Anna. I've appreciated your reading and comments over the year.

Vonna said...

I'd like to offer a different explanation of why your dog ate your ms, via an example of my own dog's dining habits. She ate whatever I spent time on. For example: an elderly relative gave me an entire collection of Dickens, which was far more elderly than she. I was intent on reading the entire collection. When I was on the final volume, I came home from work one day to find the living room scattered with fine confetti. The only clue to which book my dog had EATEN was one word...Edwin. The mystery of Edwin Drood remains a mystery to me to this day.

Brian Yansky said...

That's funny, but the motivation with your dog sounds like jealousy though of course he might just have a taste for Dickens(sorry).

Karen Strong said...

Congrats on your first year. I'm really glad that I found your blog. I've enjoyed reading it a lot.

Look forward to reading your new book.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Karen. That's very nice to hear.