Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Call of the Book

I got more of an aerobic workout yesterday than I bargained for when I took my walk, thanks to yet another idiot dog owner who was walking his rather large dog while carrying the leash, letting the dog run ahead. The dog ran at me when I approached on the walking path, barking, growling and snarling in a very non-friendly way. I'm a little freaked out by that, ever since the time a dog running around while its owner carried the leash attacked and bit me (as the owner was casually calling out, "Don't worry! She doesn't bite!"). Now I tend to anticipate the worst. When the owner finally caught up and put the dog on the leash, I snapped that the dog shouldn't have been off the leash in the first place. The owner said that the dog sensed my fear, and that's why it ran at me like that. That was rather the wrong thing to say to me at the time, I'm afraid. Seriously, it was my fault that his dog ran at me in a threatening way, because I was afraid of a large, unrestrained (and obviously untrained) dog? I really lost it then and let him have it, telling him that I was afraid because I had been attacked by a dog being allowed to run loose while the owner did nothing, and that I should be able to walk on public walking paths without worrying about whether or not a dog running at me would harm me. At least he did say that he was wrong and I was right, and I may have scared him into realizing the potential consequences of his actions, but I'm starting to feel afraid to walk in my neighborhood without carrying a defensive weapon of some kind. It's not stray dogs I have to worry about. It's dogs who are with their owners when the owners don't bother to use the leash they're carrying and who don't have their dogs trained well enough for them to respond to commands -- and often don't even try to do anything about their dogs, claiming that it's okay because the dog's just being friendly, just a puppy, or doesn't bite (which, for obvious reasons backed up by scars, I'm not inclined to believe). And then the owners have the nerve to lecture me about being afraid of their dogs? But if I have a weapon, I'm not sure I wouldn't be more tempted to use it on the stupid owner than on the dog that's attacking me. I love dogs and I hate being afraid of them, but these people are so clueless about their own dogs that it's not safe not to be cautious. Fortunately, I do still have the Voice of Command from working with the very well-trained German shepherd I used to have, and I usually have more control over other people's dogs than they do. At the very least, it usually startles the dog into pausing, even if it hasn't been trained to respond to specific commands. (And in case any of my neighbors are reading this, halfheartedly saying "No! Come back here!" does no good. You have to sound like you really mean it.)

I believe I have now reached the obsessive portion of the writing process, when I not only want to be working on the book, but I want to do it more than I want to do just about anything else. The things I usually use for procrastination no longer hold my interest. I don't even care to check my favorite forums at Television Without Pity. The one thing that's been distracting me is music. For some bizarre reason, I've become weirdly focused on learning the soprano solo in the "Pie Jesu" from John Rutter's Requiem, and since I have it on iTunes on the laptop, I find myself pulling it up to listen to/sing with. And then since I have iTunes on shuffle, another song will come up at random after it plays, and I then find myself playing "music roulette," telling myself that I'll shut off the music and work when it plays a song I don't really want to hear. But then, because I've only loaded music I really like onto the computer, there aren't too many songs on it I don't want to hear.

The musical distraction ended up becoming part of the creative process when I realized that the part I was working on was a major emotional turning point in the story, and I wasn't sure I had a good grasp on what those emotions were. Music often helps with that because if I can find a song that strikes me the way I think a scene should, I can usually then capture that emotion. So, I started listening to songs, trying to find the right one. I'm still not quite there yet, but ruling songs out is helping me hone in on what I want to convey.

I also think I may want to get back into choir. I took about a year off, and I'm getting that bug again. Maybe next week. For now, the pull of the book is stronger.

I've come to the conclusion that I will go ahead and finish this rewrite instead of sending a partial to my agent. I suspect things about the beginning will end up changing. This has the potential to be a great book if I'm patient with it and really develop it instead of feeling rushed. My rewrite process has been to do the copy/paste thing from the initial draft, tweak it, write in new scenes, and then the next day I start by re-reading what I did before and then rewriting it. I usually seem to think of the stuff that needs to be significantly changed overnight and then need to go back to it.

And now the book is calling me, so I must go.

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