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  • July 1st, 2009 | 10:53 PM
Of Dogs and Writing - On Guard

Cassie has had it easy lately. I haven't been doing as much work with her as I have in the past. Partially because a lot of the basics are trained and she just needs to be reminded of them and partially because, well, life has felt like a little too much in places. A little too crowded and sometimes a little too overwhelming because I feel so ill-equipped to deal with, well, "stuff" to use the technical term.

But Cassie's a smart dog and has been learning things on her own.

Things like, there's Al, the good postman, who always wants her to come out to say hello and give kisses; Mark, the okay postman, who mostly ignores her, and Frank, the big bad postman, who is terrified of her, especially when she goes right up to the screen door to say hello. So now she whimpers when Al comes so I can let her out into the courtyard and they can both get what they want. When Mark comes she waits majestically at the screen door, tail thumping when he says hello. And when Frank comes she stays on her rug, far enough away from the door for him to feel safe enough to deliver the mail.

Things like, Uncle Bryan and Uncle Dave are soft touches when they come over to visit because if she sticks close to them, treat magically falls from their fingers into her mouth. And if she performs tricks without being asked, they fall even faster.

Things like, if she rings the bell enough times I'll eventually stop what I'm doing and go out back with her, if only to sit on the loveseat and watch her watch bees or work on her suntan. She gets what she wants and I get a break I didn't know I needed until I had it.

What impresses me most of all is that she is learning how to keep guard of me without me doing anything at all. We've had a lot of strangers in the house lately. I'm selling stuff on craigslist and the roof guy was over and then the window guy and each time there's someone new, Cassie has a routine. First she barks like crazy from her place about six feet from the front door. Then, if I let them in, she sniffs them all around and follows us whereever we go. If I stay standing, so does she. If I don't open the screen door and someone, say a sales person, stays on the other side, she barks until I either let them in or they go away.

I haven't been blogging a lot lately. Haven't done much on Facebook or Twitter either. I messed up in a couple of places. I gave away some power and forgot to grab up some power that was offered to me. It's messed with my head in a lot of ways. And anything that messes with my head, messes with my writing.

Today the roof guy came over so we could sign the papers to get started on the new roof. Cassie went through her whole routine -  barking, standing, following. When we went into the kitchen and sat down at the table she finally decided it was okay to sit down too. But she placed herself a slight distance away, between the roof guy and me, facing him. It was a classic German Shepherd guard pose and I wish I had captured it with a picture.

I wasn't ever in any real danger but I like the idea that she is there, watching out for me when I might be too out of it to watch out for myself.

This is what I want to learn how to do with my writing life. I need to figure out what I love to do, what I tolerate doing, and what makes me so mad I just want to run away and not do at all. 

I need to find my sweet spot, the things that make me want to write, whether or not treats magically fall from the sky.

I need to remember that sometimes taking a break from doing something I love in order to do something else I love is exactly the right thing to do.

Mostly I need to learn how to guard myself. To step back, watch and wait.

To remember that no one is going to care about my writing, my words, my work, as much as I do and if I don't care enough to guard them well I shouldn't be surprised when they are taken from me.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 14 comments — Leave comment )
July 2nd, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
I heart Cassie, and I loved this post! My sentiments (and struggles) with writing, exactly, except you state it so much more eloquently. :)
July 9th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)
Thanks. Cassie really helps me think things through.
July 2nd, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about you moving through hard things. Susan, I hope your weekend brings some contented moments.
July 9th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)
Life is mostly good, Jeannine. Just sometimes rough around the edges. :) It's okay.
July 2nd, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Boy, what you said about writing, and how.
July 9th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)
July 2nd, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
I hear you, and feel many of the same things.

July 9th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)
Glad to know I'm not alone.
July 2nd, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Love this. Love that Cassie is letting you know she's there & then trusting you to give her the signals (trained or not) that she can read. :)
July 9th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
She's an amazing dog. The best I've ever had.
July 2nd, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
beautiful words (and yeah...I relate)
July 9th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
Thank you. I think most of us have been there.
July 3rd, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
What a great entry. I love your dog. Mine is 5 months old, a yellow lab, and I am at a hotel with my husband while she stays with a friend. It is soooo quiet. No panting, no doggy groans, no tail thumping...
I am stuck in an emotional place where I can't give myself permission or time to write, but this summer in Maine, I am going to do some timed writing and character sketches etc and see if I can get going.
All the best to you! What you wrote is inspiring.
July 9th, 2009 06:25 am (UTC)
I'm glad you found my words inspiring. I know there is going to come a time that I have to go some place without her but man, it is going to be hard.

I hope you find the courage to give yourself permission to write.
( 14 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
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"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
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