Catching Up with Help from NJSBWI and TeachersWrite

Haven’t kept up with the blog as I had intended but I haven’t given up.  The past few weeks have been crazy.  Attended the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference two weekends ago and have been re-imagining a character I’ve been developing.  His name is Dashing Dylan.  Dashing, because his mind is in constant motion – moving from one thought to the next –each equally important and never forgotten.  In addition to his perpetual thoughts he is, almost always, in perpetual motion. I say almost always because sometimes Dashing Dylan likes to relax, with his Dashing thoughts, of course.  And when he does, he’s as quiet as a sleeping baby resting on his mother’s chest.  Dashing Dylan is also quite dapper, with big brown eyes that open to the world.

So, as I mentioned in the first post of this new blog, I wanted to focus again on my writing – to do that I went to NJSCBWI and joined #TeachersWrite a summer writing group for teachers.  Yesterday’s prompt from TeachersWrite was to use a link to a noun locator and then write off the noun that appeared on the screen. Since I’ve been so busy I didn’t see the prompt until late last night and decided I’d just do the prompt this morning.  Upon rising, and checking the #TeachersWrite blog, I saw that today’s prompt was to write about a character.   Still wanting to catch up from yesterday, I did the noun locator and it came up with the word “Lizard.”  It had never occurred to me that Dashing Dylan might want a lizard, but after a bit of thought, it fit perfectly.  So I’ve combined the two assignments, writing off the word “Lizard” and getting to know my character Dashing Dylan a little more deeply.   Here’s what I wrote.  It’s rough, but I think the exercise has given me some new material on which to work.

Dashing Dylan longed for a pet. Not just any pet, but a lizard. And not just any lizard– a bearded dragon. He would name his lizard Bob and they would be best friends.  Together they would bask under the heat lamps to warm their bodies – Dylan on his back, fingers entangled beneath his head, and Bob on his belly, neck reaching toward the heat. Dylan’s heat lamp would be the sun of course, which he wished he could turn on and off in his room for whenever he had a chill and wanted to relax.  Basking side by side Dylan would share his wonderings with Bob, like” if I attached motor packs to my back and held an umbrella – do you think I could fly?” or  “I think someone should invent a bug bite sucker that all in one full swoop would put anti-itching ointment on the bite, stick a needle in the middle and with a mini-extra-strong-suction vacuum would suck out all the puss or poison or whatever was in there that made it itch and swell so badly.” 

Of course, Dylan could imagine Bob’s habitat that he would meticulously design. It would be a 55-60 gallon aquarium, lined with Astroturf and sprinkled with brown wrapping paper. Dylan would put incandescent lights for heat, as well as a UVB heat lamp and make sure the temperature was just so.   Dylan would make sure there was lots of space for Bob to scuttle about, branches and logs for climbing, a flat rock for basking on and for fixing his toenails, and a hiding place that was just the right size for Bob perched high on one of the larger branches.  A hibiscus plant would be the perfect vegetation. Oh, how Dylan wished he had a lizard.  The only obstacle, the only thing in his way, was his mother.  

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4 thoughts on “Catching Up with Help from NJSBWI and TeachersWrite

  1. I love this piece, so specific and vivid. I am right there beside Dylan and Bob. I have a fondness for the name Bob because whenever there is a new pet or object in our household that needs a name, my husband always pipes in with Bob. You have a very likable and real character in Dylan. The ending makes me want to turn the page. Keep writing!

  2. Like Margaret, I find that I am dying to know what Dylan’s mom thinks!

    I also enjoy the description of “a flat rock for basking on and for fixing his toenails”. Ha! One part so sensible, scientifically-based, factual… and the other so frivolous! Even though “fixing toenails” is undoubtably something that lizards do, your description almost make the rock seem like a place for “Bob”‘s own personal pedicures! I can almost imagine a bottle of nail polish sitting next to it….

    Good luck with Dylan, Bob, and Dylan’s mom! 🙂

    • When I did the prompt yesterday, wasn’t really thinking about how the mother might respond. But you and Margaret have got me thinking… I’ll try to work on it in the next few days and post an update. Thanks for commenting.

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