Day 347: What I got from writing “Charlie’s Dog”

Writing the “Charlie’s Dog” short story (read it here) over the last few weeks was completely unique in my experience, at least as far as this blog goes. Prior to that, all my posts had been stand alone posts (notwithstanding multi-part topics such as “Reaching for Satisfaction,” Part 1, 2, etc,” which are actually still stand alone thought pieces that happened to be somewhat linked to others). Moreover, they were all either “nonfiction,” or creative poems or raps based in some situation or mood I was in. This was the first time I wrote a serialized story continuously from day to day.

I did not expect to do this, but once the idea occurred to me, I went with it. In many ways it was quite satisfying, to be writing the same thing every day. On the other hand, at times I longed to be able to start at square one with whatever new topic is on my mind each day. This is something I truly love about this blog: the flexibility to write about whatever or however it comes to me. (In fact, the short story idea merely expands my options!)

It helped that it was pretty easy to continue writing the story as I went along. Each day I simply sat down, in a moment when I knew I was able to focus on writing something (which is what I do anyway for these posts). t I usually studied what happened in the installment from the day before. Then I just thought about what the next logical scene would be. Maybe it was Nan, the landlord. How was she feeling about Charlie’s dog? How was she feeling about her family? I sort of just put the focus on each character, one at a time, and then I wrote down what occurred to my mind.

A little like taking literary dictation 😉

One of the most satisfying things about the process was seeing how these characters took on their own motivations, with their own histories, likes, dislikes, and personalities. I have always loved this about fiction, as well as in well-written multi-character movies and TV. A variety of interesting characters, each with their own uniqueness and point of view, has always fascinated me about stories.

Another thing that was interesting about this process was how the plot unfolded. I didn’t know ahead of time what would “happen.” It was a surprise to me how negatively Nan would react to the dog! I didn’t know she had an autistic son. For awhile, I didn’t know that he would be the key to her accepting Charlie’s dog.

This plot development actually did occur me several days before I finished the story. In fact, I was a little relieved when I finally saw the end in sight. For awhile, I was saying to myself, “How big is this story going to be? Because I have only so many days before the end of my 365 Day Blogging Project, and I wasn’t expecting this to take up all of them.”

However, other than that advance knowledge of the conclusion, I didn’t “plan” out the story. I just went with it moment to moment. I have learned to trust this approach in much of what I do, whether it is teaching, composing, improvising, performing… or writing.

All in all, the short story project was a satisfying sub-project and a happy byproduct of this overall blog project 🙂

I am definitely open to doing it again!

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