Slow Learner

This is the result of porcupine encounter #3. Because she’s a boxer, the first two involved paws. Those quills we removed ourselves. But these required professional intervention. Ouch.

You’d think a dog would learn from its first encounter, but the research-supported fact is this: there are lots of repeat offenders. Even after the ouch factor, dogs return again and again to battle, and lose, against these prickly critters.

Though I’ve been quick to chastise my pooch, I have to admit as a writer I’ve suffered some of the same repeats of painful experiences. The process is slow, and the learning curve isn’t nearly as fast as I’d like. Agent Donald Maass, in his new book The Fire in Fiction, says there are two kinds of writers: the status seeker and the storyteller. I must be of the second variety, because in over ten years of pounding away at my craft, I don’t find myself frustrated at having acquired little in the way of status.

Two-thirds of fiction sales are branded, notes Maass. For the most part, promo dollars are wasted on authors who don’t already have a following. That might seem depressing, but slow learners that we are, storytellers don’t waste a lot of time bemoaning this fact. They’re the ones that work and rework their stories, taking risks and making them bigger. It’s great company to keep, really, if you can get past the prickles along the way.

As for the boxer, I’m happy to report that encounter #4 ended more happily. She approached with caution, got a gentle boot in the hind end from her owner who wasn’t excited about dropping another $180 for quill removal, and backed off to bark from a safe distance. Which proves, I hope, that even slow learners eventually get it.

4 thoughts on “Slow Learner”

  1. Ouch! Maybe this time did the trick.

    I'm thinkin' I like story tellers better than status seekers….
    Way less likely to hand it off to someone else to fill in the details, and definitely a better story to be read.

  2. About this misadventure, there is nothing benign

    Oh how my heart goes out to your quilled canine

    So dear Boxer, here is my fervent wish

    Avoid the porcupines and settle for fish

    From: The anonymous author of "Ode to a Dead (Chum) Salmon

  3. Whoever took this photo captured the essence of the "Honorable Beast Caught In A Dishonorable Situation."

    Truly an artist.

    And, remember, as we are all Honorable Animals…our Curiosity Towards Nature sometimes gets the best of us. When that happens, thank Buddha for our Helping Friends.

  4. Not sure she saw anything dishonorable in the whole situation…in her canine brain, she's the Honorable Beast on a Noble Mission to Eradicate Porcupines.

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