Trouble can’t help but notice that this writing stuff makes for restlessness. It’s not the nice sedentary job you might think, where a dog can lie peacefully in Underdesk and dream serious dreams about nothing.


Even on the days when Keyboard clicks steadily overhead, Trouble is jolted awake by Human’s getting to her feet to feed paper to Printer, and then to fetch it back. Human settles back in the chair, usually managing to disturb Underdesk, and instead of the rattle of keys,  there’s shuffling of paper, and sighing, and scratching, and tearing. Keyboard sounds can generally be tucked back into canine semi-consciousness, but the other sounds, being unpredictable, demand alertness. So it’s restless work, both below and above Keyboard.

It seems that Human can’t just write something and be done like dinner. (Is it time yet?) She has to write something and stare at it on the screen, scrolling up and down, and then print it and spread it out so she can see the whole thing – the whole shape of it – which usually results in sighs, and scratching (Human affects a fountain pen, which, despite its name, doesn’t seem to flow so much as furrow the paper.) Sometimes paper is torn from top to bottom; sometimes it goes through the machine that screams as it chews. (Some Tollers scream too, but that’s another story altogether, usually involving the near prospect of swimming. Trouble doesn’t scream, but the Toller scream means that people have to really like the breed in order to take them on, and that’s not a bad thing.) Sometimes paper gets crumpled into a ball, but not the sort that gets thrown for retrieving. Which is a pity. Trouble can tolerate a great deal if a ball gets thrown from time to time.

And then the whole process begins again: Keyboard, Printer, shuffling and sighing. Underdesk gets very uncomfortable. Does Human have to move her feet quite so much? There’s no discernible connection between feet and Keyboard. Trouble would leave, except she is sure that in her absence, the paper ball would be thrown across the room. Or Dish – and Dinner – might appear. It never has appeared outside Kitchen before, but Trouble takes no risks over Dinner.

Trouble is describing drafting and revision. If I were to revise her draft description above, I’d print it out so I could see the whole shape, not just one screenful at a time. Then I’d go through it looking for the things that belong to the topic of drafting and revision, and scratching out the things that have crept in that are irrelevant. That depends on my purpose, of course. If I want to amuse, bring on the irrelevancies; if I want to instruct, the delete key is my best friend.

chasing gulls crop

Removing irrelevancies from the beach this morning


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