Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 22, 2016

Puppies and Revision

We’ve had Kirby with us for nine days now, and in that time he’s lost his squishiness and gotten serious about growing long legs. He’s learned his name, how to bark, is working on what should happen inside a house and what outside, and understands and is respectful of the cat’s boundaries. He’s excited about getting to know the world beyond the yard. He’ll start puppy classes next week and I hope he’ll learn, as toddlers must, that 3 a.m. is not a preferred time to play. Yes, he’ll learn. He wants to please and loves us, as we do him, though there are of course those normal puppy pulls toward trouble.

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Besides opening and closing the door a lot, I’ve loved having a companion as I write. A few weeks ago, I took a break from my novel to look at a manuscript turned down, albeit with compliments, five years ago. I’d remembered it fondly, but when I gave it a new look, saw it needed more than dusting. I changed the main character’s age, so must create lots of new dialogue, and lopped off a major plot thread to bring out the bones. Which let new ideas slip in. What I thought might take a few days when I first brought the manuscript back into daylight, is taking weeks, but feels well worth it. Much is getting trimmed and more being rewritten, but there’s still a basic trust of the people and place I can lean on, and make me feel sure enough of my scissors and pen. And I’ve learned some things in five years, which I can put to use. Hurrah for second, or multiple, chances. And patience.



  1. Yes, patience…and time. How marvelous to look upon an old manuscript with new eyes. And in the company of a new friend! Kirky has such sweet eyes – very thoughtful, too.

    • Oh, thank you, wise teacher, for calling the process marvelous. I will remind myself of that when patience thins. Of course you’re right — going back is an opportunity. And yes, Kirby’s eyes are going to keep winning him forgiveness after puppy-trouble!

  2. Your posts make me want a puppy, even though I know I DON’T have the patience for a canine companion, as opposed to my feline one. I think I need to schedule more walks about town, because there are usually a whole slew of dogs the are willing to offer greetings and accept some pats in exchange.

    And yay for the new look at an old book. I need to remember what you say about finding and trusting the pieces to lean on.

    • Oh, yes, I know all our dogs could never get enough pats. I used to walk Parker who’d keep his eyes out for a likely admirer.

      Maybe especially with historical, if that’s what you’re looking back at, there’s a familiarity with the place, and you’re no longer so tied to the research, which is freeing. But it is better to focus on what it can still give you rather than what must be taken away. And the taking away for me has happened one chunk after another, while I’m slowly adding, so — not so bad! Especially as I’m pleased with the results!

  3. Love everything about this post, especially that warm, happy dog.

  4. New breathing in the house! From noble puppy and worthy ms.! Hooray!

  5. I like that idea of having a writing companion. He sounds perfect.

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