Friday, May 23, 2014

My dog is always teaching me things

This is my dog, Stormy.

Yes, we took her to the tulip farm with us last month and took pictures of her since we don't have little kids anymore to do that with. Red is her color, don't you think?

So, Stormy gets allergies in the spring and summer that cause her to scratch a lot, and they got so bad last year we decided to put her on some medication to help stop the itchiness. For a while, I could put the (large!) pill in a pill pocket and she'd take it no problem. Then one day she figured out that something was in there, and she'd spit it out and just eat the stinky pocket thing. So I'd make a little sandwich with bread and peanut butter, and that worked for a while until it didn't. Same with cheese. You get the point.

Eventually, nothing worked. I couldn't hide the pill in food anymore. I had to figure out how to get the thing down her throat a different way.

The first few times I pried her jaws open and shoved the thing into her mouth were not pretty. She fought me, I cussed a lot, until eventually she finally took it. I rewarded her heavily with some lunch meat. Next time, same thing. And again, same thing.

But somewhere along the way, things changed. Today I noticed how easy it is now. We have our routine. I get the pill out of its packaging and the turkey slices out of the fridge. Stormy sees what's happening and comes over and gets in her spot. I kneel down, give her some love, then open her mouth and stick the pill back in her throat. She doesn't fight me, and actually LETS me do this. She swallows it, and she gets her treat.

With every book I start, I'm nervous. Scared things won't go well. As I try to find my way into a story, it can feel like I'm trying to open the jaws of a dog who is trying to back away, while shaking her head. It's difficult. I struggle. I fret and fret some more.

But what I've learned is that doesn't mean it's going to *always* be that way. It gets easier. I find the voice. I find my way into the story. Every day that I sit down to write, there is a bit less of a struggle. That's not to say that every day is easy. Some days the words flow and some days they don't as much, but the main thing is to show up, day in, day out. I often tell myself when the words are done, I can read a book. Or go for a walk. Or watch a movie. Or have chocolate. Whatever. Just like with dogs, rewards work. A lot of authors have calendars and stickers and give themselves a sticker when they've done a certain word count. I'm participating in a 30 day challenge with some other authors, and we have a spreadsheet where we are to share our progress every day with each other. It works, man. It really works.

I've been writing a long time. But every book is new. Different. Scary. I wonder sometimes if aspiring authors realize this. Just like my dog and that stupid pill, I tell myself giving up is not an option. I just have to keep trying until I find my way to where it's not so scary. Not such a struggle. Maybe even easy.

And what do you know. The pill gets swallowed. And the book gets written.


  1. Aw, she's adorable! I'm assuming some sort of poodle mix? (I have a poodle) And it's nice to know it's like this for other people too. I always struggle when I see the blank page and the cursor blinking, like these little panic attacks- I have to fill up that page? With words? That probably aren't going to be right the first time? *facepalm* But you keep doing it and doing it and it gets done!

    1. Yes, exactly. One word after the other is how the book gets written. :)

  2. I love this post! Will have to remember this!