July 12, 2012

Writing Lessons From A Pig

Dennis, the Wild Boar

Why My Book is Delayed

My next book, A Bullet For Carlos, is going to be delayed a bit, probably a month or two. I blame it all on Dennis, our crazy wild boar. No, he didn’t eat the only copy of the manuscript. And he didn’t destroy my hard drive. What Dennis did was teach me a lesson, one I didn’t even know I needed.

Do it Right

Writing is all about doing things right, and if there’s one thing I can say about Dennis, it’s that he does things right. Everything Dennis does has to be his way. And it has to be perfect.

If he’s digging a mud hole you better believe it will be an excellent mud hole. And if he goes to build a house, let’s just say, it might not be the brick house that third little pig built, but he does it right. I’ll show you in a minute.

Last winter it got real cold for a while. Dennis had outgrown his house and needed something for protection, so we threw a few bales of straw over the fence. Like all hard-working pigs, he went right to work. Within two days, this is what he had accomplished,  the picture on the left.

Dennis' house he built from straw and sticks

First stage of Dennis' houseBut he didn’t move into his house. He continued working on it, gathering sticks, branches, an old tarp from the barn, a hose, and about anything else that he could move to his cubby. It took Dennis two more days to complete his project, but it was a sight to behold. The picture on the right is what I saw when I went to feed him in the morning.

I was impressed. Dennis had woven the sticks in with the straw and packed it down tight. He had built himself a damn nice house. It taught me not to rush things. Not to “move in” until the house was ready.

I thought my book was ready, but when a few of the final beta readers got back to me they pointed out things I felt would be good to change. These weren’t critical. Not plot holes that would destroy the story, or character flaws that would make a reader toss the book across the room, but they were valid points that, in my opinion, would make the book better.

To Fix or Not to Fix

I was tempted to let it slide. It would take a hell of a lot of work to change the book at this point. And worst of all, once I did my changing it meant another trip to the copy editor, to ensure I didn’t foul up her good work. Yes, it had already passed through the copy editor.

As I sat on the porch, smoking my pipe, and pondering what to do, I watched Dennis digging a mud hole. He rooted around, plopped down in it, wasn’t satisfied, so he dug some more. This went on for about ten more minutes, maybe more, until he was happy with what he’d created. Then he plopped down one more time and shuffled around until he got comfortable. I could see the smile on his face. He was happy with what he’d created.

I got up from the porch, tapped the loose tobacco from my pipe, and went to the computer. Launching this book would have to wait. I had work to do.

I know not every reader will like every book I write. I’m okay with that. What I couldn’t stomach, though, is knowing I put something out there that I wasn’t happy with. I want to be like Dennis. I want to be happy with what I create.

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,




Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of Murder Takes Time, and A Bullet For Carlos.
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 41 loving “friends.”

3 Responses to “Writing Lessons From A Pig”

  1. Dennis is very wise–and quite the decorator too.

  2. The trouble with Dennis is he knows he’s smart.

  3. You can’t argue with Dennis. 😉

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