The Dog: In Summary (and a writing prompt)

Spoiler Alert!!!! If the plot of Rosie’s story in critical to you, read this “Vehry Intahrchesting” post last.

The Dog bounded out of the first prompt from the first writing class I ever took: Write about a magical transformation.

I remember sitting at The Rosebud Cafe half an hour before the assignment was due, furiously writing what is published, here, as Part One. I remember feeling a great deal of shame as The Dog chewed into the popular people; in the time I was writing about, kids weren’t opening fire on their classmates then killing themselves. I had to follow the story, however. Rosie was the real deal.

At the time, I was trying to sell my (still-unpublished) first novel. A young adult editor from a major publishing house read it. She didn’t want it, but asked me to try something YA. Starting with The Dog, I struggled for two years to make Roise/Lauren/Jonathan into a novel. The voice was clear. The characters were fairly clear; Lauren is still mushy. I had the plot (who does what, and how it culminates). I had chunks of fiction, but the story (what is really going on) never popped.

The short story The Dog (not YA) existed simultaneously.  It always had three sections; not always the same three. I wrote Rosie and Jonathan’s brief affair. I wrote Rosie’s death. I knew Rosie had been molested, and that her perp came into the story only as much as you see in The Dog. I thought alot about the Torah stories of Rachel, Leah, and Jacob. I wrote one. Out of the blue, a call came from the editor of, commissioning a Passover shorty story. Working with that editor, what is now the second section emerged, the final section fell into place, and The Dog published, Aou-a-ouuuuu.

In the process of re-posting and summarizing here, I understand why the novel never popped. When I got that Rosie would die young, would die without experiencing love because she would not allow herself to experience her abuse, I locked down. I would not write that story. Not long ago, I took an art therapy class. My doodles focused on color. There was always an initial, purple image that came into contact with black-and-ugly. From the collision a phoenix emerged, redolent.

My artist-self wanted to vary the theme. The therapist said, “Don’t. Your ability to hope is why you survived.”

YOUR WRITING PROMPT (with apologies to Rebecca Brown’s “Writing on the Family” at Richard Hugo House, circa 1999):

Write a magical transformation. It can be a real transformation. It can be imaginary. It can be unclear.


Author: allehall

I am a writer. I write to explore childhood: literary essays and short fiction, journalism, and three haiku. My published work expresses my belief that everything which did or did not happen to me as a child is manifesting in everything that is or is not happening to me today. More importantly, it is also manifesting for my children. I believe funny is the new navel-gazing, and that the best funny keeps a penny's worth of serious in an accessible pocket. Little-known fact: I have a completed novel decorating the inside of a desk drawer. Perhaps it is not funny enough.

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