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  • October 14th, 2009 | 10:42 PM
Of Dogs and Writing - Instinct

Last Saturday we took Cassie with us to go visit my kids and my grandson. We met at a local park with a huge pond filled with a great many ducks. Big ducks. Loud ducks. Brave ducks that walked right up to greet us and asked for handouts.

I thought I would have my hands full keeping Cassie from running after the ducks while we ate and played with the kids. I envisioned losing my voice after shouting "Leave it" at least a hundred times. But as usual, Cassie surprised me. No matter how close the ducks came or how much noise they made quacking or splashing or waddling right by her nose, she simply ignored them. I mean the leash never even tightened once. This is the same dog who jumps to attention when she sees horses or chickens on television and puts her nose up on the screen.

There were eleven of us, all told, and Cassie was much more interested in keeping her pack of eleven together. She didn't have time to worry about ducks. When three people veered off from the pack in search of a soccer ball she went on full alert, unable to relax until they had returned. When two others moved away from the main group to play hide-and-go-seek she moved to face in their direction, again, not letting down her guard until they returned to the group.

Eleven people. Nine of whom she had never met before and yet she pulled them into her pack. She followed a long-bred instinct to shepherd us together. She ignored the ducks and took care of the people. Without ever being told what to do, she did the right thing.

Instincts are hard to ignore.

I'm working on Flyboy. Again. Still. There's a scene that's been there in every version of the story for the last twenty plus years. A scene that starts the chain of events that drive the rest of the book. The characters in the scene have changed and the location of the scene has changed but the essence of the scene has always remained the same.

Until now, when someone I respect suggested that maybe I needed to do it differently. I've struggled for four days wondering whether my rejection of the idea is just the result of being familiar with the scene for twenty years and not wanting to give it up or whether some deep-seated in-bred instinct is telling me to leave it alone, it is doing what I need it to do.

I still don't know the answer but for now, I'm leaving it alone.

For now I'm going to trust myself to do the right thing.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 2 comments — Leave comment )
October 15th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
These dogs and writing posts always get me thinking, Susan. I've been struggling with instinct and trust in my writing lately, so you've given me more to ponder. Thank you (and Good dog, Cassie!)
October 15th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Trust your instinct. It is your book. If ten people you respect had all said the same thing, that would be different.
( 2 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."
--Anne Rice


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