Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Puppy Pads and Bare Feet

Have you ever paper-trained a puppy?

Do you remember placing the young dog on an area widely covered in yesterday’s sport’s section of the paper, especially if your favorite team has lost yet again? Darn Raiders. Of course, the puppy walks off the papers and you promptly return it to the task at hand. This process repeats until you get lucky and little Sparky finally uses the papers. With praise and repetition of the process twice a day for weeks, the little beast gets it right. That was the way we did it when I was young and newspapers were three inches thick.

Times have changed. Most newspapers are going out of business and some genius invented puppy pads. But, puppies remain the same, so the kitchen floor now sports a neat row of plastic backed, super absorbent puppy pads. Life is good.

What does this have to do with writing? I can’t speak for others, but I love to write without wearing shoes. Sometimes I have background music, and I write best during rainstorms. The awning on my back patio is aluminum, and when rain beats its welcome cacophony, I find the random noise oddly stimulating to both creativity and energy. Alas, rain is great, but I live in sunny Sacramento where you can plan an outdoor picnic or barbeque three years in advance. In other words, we don’t get much rain, which brings me back to the one writing habit that provides the most consistent impact on my productivity . . . bare feet.

I was recently deep in thought, pondering time travel as a means of spanning inter-galactic distances. That’s a theory in my latest sci-fi book. It works like this:  most astrophysicists believe the speed of light is the limiting factor for deep space travel. As a result, inter-galactic travel is virtually impossible and even intra-galactic travel within our own Milky Way would require generations for simple travel to the nearest stars. Suspension of reality must take place by readers if sci-fi stories that span such distances are to be believable. Ah, but, recent theories by credible astrophysicists claim the speed of light may not be fixed . . . that in the earliest moments of the universe the speed of light was vastly greater than it is now. So, I wondered, what if we could go back in time, waaay back in time, to a period when the speed of light was far greater and the universe much smaller than today. It would dramatically reduce distances between galaxies and increase the speed of light so intergalactic travel might be accomplished . . . or so the story goes.

As you can see, I was preoccupied and not thinking about where my bare footsteps fell when I walked through the kitchen to get another soda. Argh . . . puppy pad! Yep, those pads do a great job absorbing stuff, but they also act like a saturated sponge when you step in the wrong place. And talk about a mood altering experience! After standing in the downstairs shower for a couple minutes to wash my foot, I replaced the used puppy pad with a new one. That was twenty minutes of inspiration and writing I’ll never get back. I guess the real moral of the blog is writers are constantly having to manage distractions and interruptions. Damn puppy pads!

1 comment:

  1. LOL -- My "puppy pad" is the field outside our house. One of the joys of living on a farm. Our dog is trained to do her business with the cows. Mind you, she likes to chase them once she's finished relieving herself.

    How do I manage distractions? Simple: Before I go to bed at night, I hide the remote for the TV in my study. When I rise the next morning, not entirely lucid, it takes me half the day to remember where I put the damn thing. I use that time to write.



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