Don’t be fooled by those eyes. This is the face of a tyrant.
It’s very hard to do much of anything when there is a puppy at my feet with a bucket on his head. It’s driving everyone crazy, most especially him, because the cone that stops him chewing on his stitches also stops him from entering a room in an eloquent and unobtrusive fashion – which is hard for a six month old puppy to do at the best of times. His banging and clashing jars the brain of anyone within earshot and makes it difficult to even contemplate working. And then there is a issue of him tail-gating. He likes to trot behind us, but when he has this bucket on his head all you can feel is the scrap of plastic against the back of your knees as he tries to keep up or get closer. Punishment for making him undergo this humiliation?
In his frustration Ernie has destroyed a chux cloth, his bed, some paper that I left carelessly in reach, several Christmas beetles, one rhinoceros beetle, a couple of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle I was working on, the edges of his bucket, the lattice work on the back veranda and very nearly everyone’s patience. My moments of working at the computer are haphazard and ephemeral. I constantly have to get up and check his whereabouts, check whether what he’s destroying is needed or wanted and check his stitches to make sure he hasn’t burst them in his careless frolicking around the living room. His presence is larger than any character’s presence at the moment, which says more to me about my enthusiasm than it does about this little monster called Ernie.
Every writer must face this obstacle when writing a lengthy piece such as a novel: call it boredom, restlessness or even apathy, when it hits it’s always a surprise. Six months ago you had this great idea for a story. You knew you could fill four hundred pages with gripping storytelling, authentic dialogue and a conclusion that would satisfy everyone. You couldn’t wait to get started and spent every waking moment thinking on it. Now any excuse is good enough to divert your attention: the dog, the dishes, lunch with friends, sleep, that movie everyone is talking about. What happened to that enthusiasm? Were you wrong about this story? If you’ve lost interest half way through then readers surely will too, since it will show in your work. For me, the best antidote to this dilemma is to go back and revisit my intentions for this particular story, the original idea and find what sparked my interest in the first place. Why did I want to write this in the first place? What did I like about the story and why did I have to tell it? Answering these questions requires rereading the first clumsy notes, and even remembering the moment when the spark first appeared. From this I can discern where I went wrong, why the spark has waned. For me it is a very simple case of losing faith in the original concept, which has caused me at times to contemplate abandoning the book all together. Fortunately I am a tenacious being; I won’t give up on something I have believed in so fervently for so long. The diversions will come and go, but the project must be done. It’s my job.