Inertia has two effects: in one, a kid on wheels going downhill will continue moving fast even when no longer going downhill–indeed, even when there’s a tree in his way. In the second, a kid lying motionless on the ground takes some doing to get moving again.

A while back I wrote about the first kind of inertia, where this book I’m working on was happily whizzing along at 1500 brisk words a day and all I had to do was show up and press the right buttons on the laptop. At the moment, we’re going through the other kind of inertia, where every word is a battle and 1500 words takes a major part of the day, and then they’re bad and will have to be cut and reshaped and leave me ill-tempered and the only good thing I can say about them is that they’re there.

When things are rolling, decisions make themselves, or at most, provide an amusing diversion: Is the family dark or light-haired? One son or two?

At the moment, every choice is agonizing, no matter how small. For example, I’ve established that the mother and father are both into dogs, since the mother hunts (ie, packs of beagles) and the father occasionally sets his hounds on passing undergraduates intent on mischief. But dogs like that aren’t really a presence in the family’s daily life, being a collective rather than a personality, and besides, they’re generally housed elsewhere. So should I provide my country house with a few dogs as well? And if so, are they little creatures like dachshunds, or something more hefty? On the one hand, it really doesn’t matter; on the other hand, the choice of pets says a great deal about the owner, and I just don’t know what I want to say.

And looming large are the more weighty choices, such as: How to bring my two groups together without depending on the kind of knobbly coincidence that bashes the shins of every passing reader?

So today I’ll spend the morning re-reading the 140 pages of TOUCHSTONE and trying to get a handle on where the book is going. With luck, I’ll catch a glimmer of light that I can follow. And if the gods don’t smile on me, it’s back to moving immovable bodies for a while.

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  1. elisa on February 22, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    Patience, patience, patience. All projects have their ebb and flow. It’s hard not to be attached to the ease of the flow. But the ebb has its place. Remember, you’ve said in the past that the ebb is the back of your head telling you something doesn’t add up. Just sit and listen. It’ll come.

  2. myninki on February 22, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    How about an Italian Greyhound?

  3. chris on February 22, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    If I had just 10% of your skill and 1% of your patience, I’d be a lucky man…

    Good luck!

  4. Anonymous on February 22, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Maybe the families could meet at Cruft’s — the dog show.

    Was there any anti-daschund sentiment in Britain during WWI the way there was in the US? Would that still be a factor in the 20s?

    Somehow, I don’t connect daschunds with country houses, but have no suggestions.

    It would seem that the dogs being set on undergraduates (?) would be house dogs more than kennel dogs, wouldn’t they?

    Anyway, things will pick up again. Do not despair.

  5. Anonymous on February 22, 2006 at 5:33 pm


  6. 2maple on February 22, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    I love your ‘e2’80’9coccasionally sets his hounds on passing undergraduates’e2’80’9d. What a great visual!

    Dogs’e2’80’a6hmmm’e2’80’a6It depends what you want to do with your ‘e2’80’9cdog’e2’80’9d. If your looking for a companion that results in an occational raised eye brow and a lot of personality, a Border Collie without sheep to herd will find all sorts facinating diversions to keep itself entertained ‘e2’80’a6couple obsessive-compulsive behavior and anything to do with motion. You could be very creative here. Our Border Collie was 🙂

    May the plodding and head banging ceased be replaced by something more productive enjoyable.

  7. Mama Rose on February 22, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Your comment that the choice of dogs is hard because it says something about the people and you don’t know what you want to say is one of those offhand comments pro writers make that always make me go, “Of course.” And then groan-one more thing to think about when I’m writing. Yet, it’s attention to those details that make the difference. :smiley:


  8. Vicki Larson on February 22, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    Or you could pick a dog that one of them loves and the other can’t stand. But puts up with because he/she loves the owner. Orrrr. The possibilities are endless- which, of course, is the problem. How about a killer cat? Now that would throw a wrench in the works.

  9. Anonymous on February 23, 2006 at 3:05 am

    I’m sure you’ll hear “the daughter of the voice” soon!
    Please, no dogs that require coiffing—animals should not masquerade as topiaries.

  10. Anonymous on February 24, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    Laurie, As usual, Vicki Larson’s suggestion is a good one. It adds a human element that we can all relate to. A visit to the Humane Society might spark ideas; or visits to dog-owning friends. But of course, the real issue isn’t your choice of dogs, it is the management of your time as you struggle to get through the inertia. Might I suggest (going back to the dogs) that you create the personalities of the dogs first, then pick a breed that fits each personality? Keep on truckin’! Iris Lady

  11. Anonymous on March 1, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    What do they do when they are in the country? if they walk or ride and the dogs stay with them wouldn’t it make sense to have dogs that can do that too? That would preclude lil uns and leave you in for those big ole mastiffs Holmes has in several stories – course they were always mean but prhaps Mastif mixed with collie or setter or pointer would be a good big mix with plenty of pep a good nature and strong coat for those horrible English winters.

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