Rolling in Dead Stuff

I don’t usually think of my current dog, Polly, as my intellectual muse and partner. Not the way Patch was. I think of Polly more as my personal fitness trainer, since as a hound dawg who needs to run, she forces me to get outside and walk or run every single day, no matter what the weather is like.


I figure I can learn something about writing from everyone, even Polly, if I watch and listen closely enough. I just didn’t figure that she’d line up so well with Ray Bradbury.

PollySwim2Today was spectacular, warm. Low lunar tide meant the beach stretched out forever, and we could walk for miles along the river without fear of drowning.

Polly ran ahead, ran behind, leaped over the channels and waterfalls where water spilled out of the marshes with the tide and back to the river. Then I saw her lying on her back in the distance.


She ignored me. When she finally ran back to me, she was grinning from ear to ear, brown gunk matted to her fur.

Yeah, she knew the rule – no rolling in dead stuff, no matter how delicious it smells.

But she did it anyhow. When that decaying bass or pelican beckoned, she just had to. And she was completely delighted with herself for doing it. A couple of well-thrown go-get-’em sticks got her in the water to wash off most of it, and a bubble bath in the driveway when we got home did the rest.

She was one happy girl, ‘cause she listened to her heart instead of to me and those silly rules.

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a cultural conversation with Ray Bradbury by Tom Nolan, on the occasion of Bradbury’s 1,112 page story anthology that’s dropping next week.

Bradbury talked about his writing in a variety of genres: “If it exploded in my mind and something came to me, I wrote it. I never thought about it. I don’t believe in thinking about stories; I believe in doing them….It’s all from the heart.”

So, yeah. From the heart. Just do it. And break some rules.

11 comments to Rolling in Dead Stuff

  • She is so beautiful, Natasha! What a great picture.
    It’s funny how you can relate writing rules with rolling in dead stuff.
    You considered Patch your intellectual muse and Polly your personal trainer, I consider my dog Cody a vacuum cleaner. 🙂
    I’m going to check out that interview, I need a healthy dose of encouragement today.

  • “Yeah, she knew the rule – no rolling in dead stuff, no matter how delicious it smells.”

    Hilarious! What a great way to bring this back around to writing.

  • Loved the story and the article. You are so good at relating life to writing. (I think I need to get out more.)

    I could relate my writing to how my older dog has developed an appetite for eating…well how do I put this politely…I got it….The food my younger dog ate yesterday. I’ll spare the details. I think this response says it all.

    Bradbury is one of my favorites. I need to remind myself to follow his example.

    • Natasha

      I’ve never read anything by Bradbury, but I may need to change that. I know he’s one of your favorites. I’m not a big science fiction fan, and I’ve always thought of Bradbury in that genre and never bothered to learn more.

      In terms of gross doggie actions, my dogs have always considered the cat litter box to be a snack source. ‘Nuff said. Our best buddies can be disgusting.

      • Fahrenheit 451 is a must. Especially for those of us who love books and gaining knowledge. The Martian Chronicals is a lot of fun and written as a series of shorts. I liked the brevity, because I could read a complete story in a very short time and pick back up the next day.

        Anyway, there are so many. I’m sure you will find one you will like.

  • Yes! Write what you LOVE is what it’s all about. To paraphrase Toni Morrison: Write the book you want to read.

  • Great post, but of course, now I am thinking…is this what I have to look forward to with a hound?? Yikes!!??

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