Writing: From thoughts to sentences.

How does this thing work?

Let’s suppose you’re about to write a piece about dogs as family members.   You’ve figured out that your audience is singles, childless couples, and retired people, all of whom dote on their pets (in growing families, children outrank pets… well, let’s hope so, anyway.)  You want to lay out the pro’s and con’s of treating your dog like a person. You stare at your keyboard, willing it to do something with the jumble of  stuff teasing your frazzled mind.  I know the writing party line is, “Define Your Topic” and “Make an Outline.”  Really?  Personally, if I could define my topic I could probably write my piece.  In fact,  I often give my blog posts titles when I’m done writing.  What does help is to write down random thoughts pertaining to my subject area, however ill formed.  To wit:

  1. boy, is my dog wonderful
  2. dogs aren’t people
  3. what are dogs really like
  4.  dumb owners
  5. tough love
  6. companions forever
  7. a dog’s eye view
  8. don’t walk my dog enough
  9. do we have enough dog food

 The process can go on and on, but the point is to get enough “out there” to have something to sort through.  What I notice about the above list is that it’s a mixture of ideas, questions, every day worries, and nasty criticism (of self and others).  What I want out of the mix are questions and ideas, so I cull out the following:

  1. dogs aren’t people
  2. tough love
  3. a dog’s eye view
  4. constant companions

Having stared at those a while, I realize I want to write a piece about the need to love and cherish our faithful companions, while at the same time doing the work to understand their make-up and behavior in some context other than anthropomorphization.  We need to respect that they’re animals and that they need help in order to live harmoniously with us.

A synopsis might run something like this:

One often hears that dogs are our best friends.  Well, they are and they aren’t.  True, dogs are incredibly faithful.  They see us as gods, however we treat them.  However they ARE animals, and their behavior needs to be understood in that context.  They see all the mammals around them as their pack, and they’re hard-wired to find their place in that pack.  If we don’t teach them otherwise, they’ll go for the alpha’s job, because that’s the one on which the pack’s survival depends. They have to make sure somebody’s doing it.  We need to teach them that, on the contrary, people are their alphas and can be counted on to protect, love, feed, shelter,and play with them.  In turn they need to do what people tell them. Unerringly.  We owe it to our dogs to competently lead the way through the human world in which we require them to live.

Okay, now I’m ready to write something.  Of course when it’s over, there’ll be editing, re-organizing, and repeated proof-readings.  But, thanks be, I’m on my way.

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