Monday, March 7, 2011

Column: Guest Dog Goes Walkabout (and Other Stuff)

Guest Dog Goes Walkabout (and Other Stuff)

by Deb Courtney

Saturday is usually my day to do stuff around the house, and I am deeply involved in Getting Things In Order today as I have a bunch of cool chicks coming over to play Texas Hold 'em. I of course plan to kick butt, but I do need to get a bunch of stuff done before the butt kicking can begin.

Which means I do not need a dog gone walkabout at the moment. But life often delivers us that which we least need, when we least need it. My life does anyway.

So there I was staining baseboards (yes, that's probably excessive just for a poker party but I have an excessive personality. Don't judge me). And I get the call from Guest Dog's real owner (Guest Dog is not mine, I am fostering him, hence calling him Guest Dog). I have to hike a mile to retrieve him. He thinks this is great fun -- not only did he make two new dog friends and a bunch of new human pals who think he is an awesome and rockin' dog, but he gets a most excellent walk from his second-favorite human (his first of course being his owner). Guest dog = happy. I = not amused.


But the forced walk in the middle of what I NEED to get done got me thinking about characters and whether or not we inflict the very real and mundane stuff of life on them as much as we should. Pipes break before big parties (at my house they do), dogs go walkabout while you are on a tight schedule, half & half goes bad seconds before you need to offer it to a guest, and the grocery stores run out of the exact item you need for the dinner you have planned forcing either a change of plans or a detour to another store (several if you are me). And sometimes you can't find a bathroom when you really, really need one. Again, don't judge me.

While I am finishing the draft of my work in progress, I think I will introduce a bit more of the mundane and irritating into my main character's life. Sometimes it's not the big plot points in life that show who a person is, but the way they deal with the mundane and routine.

I will not give my character, Else, a Guest Dog, however. She is much smarter than me and would know better than to take one in in the first place.

I'm off to finish the baseboards. Then back to writing.

Deb Courtney has a degree in fiction from the University of South Florida, has published several short stories, and has written freelance for such publications as The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Business Journal. She is a frequent speaker at Pikes Peak Writers events.

She lives in the foothills in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she has a winter view of Pikes Peak (which is to say she can see it only when all the leaves are off the trees). She shares her home with a driving-age teen, two cross-eyed slightly brain-damaged felines, and likely has squirrels in her attic. And that's not a euphemism.

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