Wagner Writer

Hi you!

Here’s my 4-pronged update:


So I’m about halfway through the third rewrite of chapter 1. OMG doesn’t this section feel like a broken record?:

Week 1
I’m rewriting chapter 1

Week 2
I got feedback. As a result I have to rewrite chapter 1

Week 3
I’m rewriting chapter 1

Week 4
Lather, rinse, repeat

Anyway, I had an idea to write the chapter in first person. I’m not sure why, but I felt it might get me further into the character’s head. Does this work? If any pro/novice writers do this, I’d love to hear more.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea but it leads to an absolutely terrifying thought:

What if I like it better?

I seriously hear the screen from Psycho in my head. The book is currently in third person so, if I like this better, I will be rewriting the entire book.

Honestly, I think it needs to stay third person. I just want to feel like I really understand the main character. And writing 10-20 pages in first person feels like it will help. At least I think it will. I imagine a professional writer reading this, shaking his head, and saying “the poor bastard”.

OK speaking of chapter 1s, I’ve been reading a lot of book excerpts on Amazon. I think I mentioned this, but you can read the first pages of most popular books out there.

Because I’m so wrapped up in these rewrites, I’ve read tons of first chapters and wanted to mention just a couple of my favorites. Please note I don’t know if the entire books are good. I just like the openings:

No Country For Old Men (Cormac McCarthy)
I bought The Road by McCarthy because it won a Pulitzer in like 2006. It’s actually a great book but the opening didn’t really sell me. The writing is extremely terse and a bit choppy. But, now that I’m into it, it fits with the story SOOO incredibly well. And the book is actually quite amazing. Consequently, I decided to read the first chapter of No Country. Wow. The writing is so different. It’s much more “normal”, I’d say. McCarthy is amazing. And the first pages of the book are hyper engaging.

Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson)
I’m not really into war books but checked this one out on a whim. I don’t know much, except it’s about the Vietnam War. Either way, the first pages are amazing. I was seriously like tearing up by the time I reached like page 8. Spoiler alert: If you don’t like sad things happening to monkeys, don’t read it!


The sty/conjunctivitis episode is pretty much over so I returned to singing this past Saturday. It was fun. Windy read and I sang. So it was like the family Mass.

There’s a part during the service where I sing something, the audience sings it with me, Windy reads a line, and then the audience sings with me again.

Windy and I hadn’t done that before so I was telling her about it. I figured she pretty much knew so I just said “sing, read, sing”. Apparently, I should have been a little more clear.

That part of the service arrived and I stood up and sang with everything I had. Before the audience could sing it back, Windy began reading her line. Then, the audience started singing over her. I froze. Windy froze. We looked at each other for a second. I realized I didn’t explain “sing, everyone sing, read, everyone sing”. So I was tempted to just stop and let her keep reading. But, by that point, the audience was already halfway into it. So I awkwardly joined in and started singing.

The family that screws up and makes fools of themselves together, stays together.

Enjoying the Area

OK so I mentioned I was dog and house sitting all week for a family going to Hawaii.

They have a really beautiful back yard, rimmed with plants and littered with fake rocks and cool little knick knacks. So Windy and I decided to take advantage. We made a couple cocktails and sat back there talking for several hours.

The dogs took advantage, too. They passed the time running around and barking at everything. At one point, the girl dog was prancing in the grass. Suddenly, the sprinklers came on. She was right in the middle of them.

She freaked out and ran to us. OMG she was soaked! She spent the next several minutes shaking and whimpering and rolling on the welcome mat. Windy and I pet her some and tried to help.

When the sprinklers shut off, she was back at it. She climbed up on a little stone ledge that separated the grass from the plants. She was all prancing up there when, suddenly, the separate plant sprinklers came on. She was right in the middle of them.

OK that was the lamest story ever, but, in the moment, it was so funny. It’s also the only “Enjoying the Area” story I have. So deal with it!

Love, Cody.

Random Learnings or Stories

Speaking of dogs, I wanted to write a little piece I call “The Synergy of Dogs.”

Late last week, during my fourth day of sitting, I found out that the family wanted to invite their son and daughter-in-law to Hawaii. Kind of a really, really nice surprise. The daughter and son-in-law have two young children and could really use a vacation.

This was all very, very, very last minute. So I get a call from the daughter-in-law asking if I could watch their dog in addition to the three I’m currently sitting. She said he was low maintenance and wanted to bring him over and let him stay with all of us. One big happy family.

I have watched him before at their house and he is a good, cute dog. So I said yes.

HOLY COW. The effects dogs can have on each other are astounding. I think it’s primarily because 1) All of the dogs have very strong personalities and 2) The dog is so incredibly different from the other three.  Here’s what I’ve noticed:

The three dogs that live there aren’t extremely well trained. They wear doggie diapers and pretty much do whatever they want. HOWEVER, they are surprisingly low maintenance. When I shut myself in the office to work or sleep, they are like “out of sight, out of mind.” I never hear from them and they do their own thing. It’s nice.

The new dog is the opposite. He’s very well trained. HOWEVER, he’s very needy. He’s an older, sweet dog who wants a lot of attention. He almost constantly whimpers and barks.

Well, in the course of two days, the one dog has completely trained the other three in the ways of neediness. Last night, they all started yelping until about 3:00AM. Then, they started up again at 5:00AM. The one dog is trained to stop so, when I commanded him, he went and lay down. But I think the other three took it as a form of attention.

I’m not a dog whisperer or anything (heck I’ve never even had a dog) but I’ve heard that you need to ignore dogs in that situation. That way, nothing encourages the behavior. So I didn’t say another word. They kept yelping and barking. For three straight hours.

I finally got up at 8:00 and went to the office. Unlike every other day, they scratched at the door and barked and yelped. I said “stop” through the door, and the one dog went downstairs. The other three, however, never stopped. It’s not their fault; they didn’t know any better. I finally quit writing at noon (4 hours later) and they were still at it.

Needless to say I’m exhausted and a bit frustrated. I can’t blame the dogs as they’re just doing what they think will get attention. But I don’t know what I can do in just a few days.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!

UPDATE: Chris, Windy and I went over there last night (I wrote the rest of this post yesterday afternoon). We spent a lot of time with the dogs and Chris told me things that encourage good behavior. Well, last night, they didn’t let out a peep! And the older dog was much calmer because we didn’t reward his whimpering and barking. It was quite amazing.

Either the dogs are super smart (I hope) or I got really lucky. We will see tonight!

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