Monday, January 25, 2016


Ridgebacks are swatters.  They use their front paws frequently to box with other ridgebacks (they go up on their hind legs and bat at each other), to hold bones while they chew, and to express themselves.  Kassi will frequently paw at us when she wants something.  Imagine a pack of ridgebacks on the African savanna with a big male lion cornered.  It swats at the pack and the pack swats back. Its offense and defense for them.  Swatting is in a ridgeback's DNA.   So, it should be no surprise that teaching Kassi to shake came pretty easy.  Teaching shake was easy with our other two ridgebacks, too.  I tapped her right leg, pulled it toward me once, put her paw in my hand, and gave her a treat.   I tapped her leg again and motioned for her to give me her paw, and she did.  One time. For the treat. 

Some things just come natural, are easy to teach and learn.  Of course, the more complicated commands will take time.  Writing is like that, too.  You have to figure out what comes easy to you.  Dialogue?  Description?  Pace?  The mystery?  Characters? Whatever it is, learn to use it as a foundation for the other skills that don’t come as natural to you.  I have always been a visual person, that's how I learn, and that's how I create.  Description seemed to come easy to me when I first starting writing.  But my dialogue was stiff and stilted, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a rhythm that sounded true. So, I took music lessons, read a lot of poetry, and read a lot of good writers who had an ear for dialogue.  It took me a long time to feel comfortable with mimicking conversations.

There are always going to be challenges for new writers, but finding your strengths and building on them is a helpful way to grow.  Just don’t rely on those natural abilities too much.  Kassi and I are already on to the next command and skill, and it won’t be an easy one… 

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