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December 12, 2014: Earth to Alys

There but for the grace of dog go I.

Tonight I went to writing group. This was my second appearance -- the first was a few weeks ago. It’s a community group –eight or so individuals get together once every two weeks and share fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This group has been going for seven-eight years. My friend Nan Potts invited me to participate. I took her up on her offer because I’ve been feeling like I need to hobnob and hang out with the local literary hoi polloi.

The group is comprised of older individuals. By older, I mean older than me. Or maybe I’m their age and don’t

Rainbow with the burl people

fully realize how old I actually am. I don’t give things like this much thought. I also avoid looking in mirrors.

I decided this afternoon to share something innocuous, which is my October 27, 2014 dispatch. It’s the one about Rainbow’s having to wear an e-collar after having her abdomen sewed up. The first half is about my speculating as to the origins of this head collar, and the second half is about a conversation that she had with Squid, a space brother when the e-collar was in place.

The feedback was excellent. As I suspected, I have a lot of revisionary leeway here. At the same time, I was, as I was reading, struck by the fact that my humor is nicely understated. I will revise it, run it by the group again, and then submit it to Bark Magazine. I do need to better describe Rainbow’s physical characteristics and include information about her first go around with the e-collar. (She also had to wear one when she had the lump on her butt removed). Also, I need to mention that she and Space Brother first came in contact with one another the first time she wore the e-collar.

After the meeting, I was asked for the literal record, how might what I wrote be categorized. Without batting an eye, I said “creative nonfiction.” I was then told that it was actually fiction, in part because the part about Rainbow talking with the Space brother was made up.

I then said that what I wrote is creative nonfiction because I’m using fictive devices to get at certain truths. Some of these include the use of dialogue, point of view, setting, and a very astute and attentive first-person narrator. I also rely on factual information. Yes, there is a dog named Rainbow. Yes, she had a bad accident, and after, she had to wear an e-collar. Yes, she hated having to wear the e-collar. Yes, she had concerns while it was in place about where she might pee and poop. How could she not? In telling her story, I’m alerting readers to the fact that e-collars obscure a dog’s vision, are uncomfortable, itchy, and overall hard to deal with. Dogs can’t climb stairs with them very well, and they can’t sniff butt.

As for Rainbow’s having a conversation with the Space Brother – who’s to say that this isn’t so? First of all, we can’t say for sure that extra-touristials don’t exist. We also can’t say that they don’t converse with dogs wearing e-collars. And it very well may be that Rainbow indicated to me that I needed to make note of this conversation. I contend that if you spend enough time around animals, that you communicate with them on differing levels.

Ideas, right and left, and sideways too. I am thinking that I’d like for e-collars to be made so that the dogs can see out of them. No, this was Rainbow’s idea, not mine.

Next: 332. 12/13/14: Power to the People