I wrote 'Separate Planes' on Oct. 5-6, 2010, i.e., during week 6 of the semester. The hardest part of writing it was dealing with the mental fallout from Week 5. Several people complimented 'Surgery, 'the example piece I used, and those compliments made me wish I could repeat my success so I could garner more praise.
But, alas, writing does not work that way. I knew I could write something competent and intelligent for week 9, but I also knew that inspiration comes when it comes and cannot be forced. One is only as good as one is on any given day, period.
The given day I wrote 'Surgery' was late in the afternoon when I was buzzed from dealing with strange students in a strange room in a way I don't usually deal with students. The idea came in a flash (that's 'inspiration'), and I could see the whole piece before I'd written a word.
That didn't happen for 'Separate Planes' and I had no reason to think it would (there's no button to push for 'inspiration, whatever the druggies tell you), so the corrupting effects of even a tiny bit of praise made 'Separate Planes' harder to start than it otherwise would have been. The whole time I was writing it, in fact, I was anticipatorily disappointed that I couldn't write another 'Surgery.' I wanted more praise, dammit!
If it's bad--I blame YOU!
So, while writers live for praise, it is not an unmixed good. One can become a praise addict and a praise whore, writing with only that goal in mind, doing things in the writing that one thinks will get one a fix of praise. That can't be good for the writing.
Some teachers treat praise as if it were an ocean all their writers should constantly float in. I tend to think of it more as a precious few drops of water in the canteen one doles out as one trudges through Death Valley. Maybe there is a happy medium between these two opposite approaches!
Back to 'Separate Planes.' I never understand how people can work from outlines. I made a few notes to help my memory in the days before I started writing. I listed all the rescue dogs we've ever taken. I wrote the words 'separate planes.' And I wrote 'Chekhov Kashtanka.'
Chekhov's story is told from Kashtanka's point of view--she is a dog with a brutal master who is lost one day and found by a kind master. She lives with the kind master for quite a while until one day her old master accidentally discovers her. He takes her off--and she is happy to be reunited with him, because dogs do love their routine and one's master is, after all, one's master.
As you can see, I used nothing in my notes except the separate-planes idea.
It would be nice, indeed, if writing were as straightforward as building off a blueprint, but it is not so.