Tag Archives: free writing

Counterintuitive: PS to “Cone of Shame”

Trouble doesn’t overthink things, which is one of the reasons she’s such good company. So she is not puzzling over the whys and the hows, as Human is — she is just delighted to be free of the cone of shame and to have the regimen of medications reduced to just lubricating drops until her next check with the surgeon.


Photo Credit: Eileen Donahoe

The keratectomy has done its magic: within six days of the procedure the ulcer had shrunk to a pinpoint; on day twelve, it was pronounced fully healed. No stain uptake in any tissue. The vet, the assistant, the office manager, other clients in the waiting room — everyone had a huge smile, and there was a little wine with dinner that night.

Human continues to puzzle over how removing a microscopic layer of tissue can promote healing — it’s counterintuitive that a large raw surface should heal faster than a partially healed ulcer. But that’s what happens, in nine out of ten dogs, the surgeon says, and in the tenth, there’s usually some underlying unsuspected condition which has been interfering with the healing.

But of course, it does make sense. It’s a bit like throwing pots. When you work your clay on the wheel, you shape it to bring it closer and closer to your vision — but there are times when you have to let the whole thing collapse and start afresh. Fiddling with it, like debriding the ulcer, is just not working. Go back to the raw clay.

And throwing pots is like writing (isn’t everything?). Human believes in the power of revision, working with the draft until it becomes, through successive versions, closer and closer to what it should be. But there are also times when you have to put the whole mess aside, and start fresh. Go back to the raw clay. Whatever your chosen technique — blank paper, free writing, writing against the clock, turning off the monitor and writing blind — it somehow frees the clouded vision.

Warm thanks to Trouble’s vets in Halifax and to CullenWeb Animal Eye Specialists in Moncton.



Point Pleasant Park

The park is better than dinner, almost. Human says she has to clear her head — that it’s not procrastination, not at all, just part of the writing process. Trouble doesn’t care what Human says, as long as she has the car keys in one hand and the collar in the other.Trouble in the park

You might think that the park gets to be boring after a while, but Point Pleasant Park is 75 hectares of woods and walkways, mostly off-leash. At the very tip of a peninsula, its rocky shores are refreshed daily with flotsam and good smelly things. In the fall a clever dog can eat blackberries right off the brambles. There’s always something to notice, and even the most unpromising things deserve to be investigated in case they turn out to be Good Things in Trouble’s Life (GTTL). Whether ducks, squirrels, or recently vacated mussel shells, there’s something of interest almost everywhere. Everything connects with your passion somehow, says Trouble, if you keep sniffing.

The off-leash park is a very GTTL. There’s pleasure just in doing your business there. You can find just the right spot, whether you like leaves or bare ground. You can take all the time you want, and you can try to leave it behind for others to find. Human is hard to escape though: she has an eagle eye and will pursue Trouble right into the scrub, plastic bag in hand, to clean up after her.  It can even be amusing to watch Human scramble through the undergrowth with her plastic bag, gathering burrs and scattering expletives.

A city walk is much less fun, but a contemplative dog knows better than to compare the pleasure of any now moment with any remembered or anticipated one.  City walks tend to be more practical events, and business at the end of a leash is not as much fun. The choice of location is more limited: Trouble likes the top of a snowbank, especially if it’s a long way from the sidewalk. She also likes to turn around several times, presenting a challenge to the leash-holder. Humans need challenges, Trouble finds; otherwise they tend to be oblivious to the moment they’re in.

Trouble at the shoreRunning offleash is akin to what we call exploratory writing, or expressive writing, or even free-writing.  You can follow whatever trail you like, or stand nose-aquiver in the heather. There’s no purpose to it except to discover what you didn’t know you thought, or uncover something quite new to you.  It’s fun. Sometimes you produce something for someone else to discover, but that’s not why you do it. It’s not like writing for a reader. There are more constraints to that exercise. The secret, as Trouble has discovered, is to treat those constraints as challenges, and find the fun in them, too.  Just like pooping at the end of a leash.