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  • November 11th, 2009 | 12:02 AM
Of Dogs and Writing - Get a Little Closer

Cassie goes almost everywhere with us but depending on which car we take it's like traveling with two different dogs. In my car, a Honda coupe, she sits directly behind me on the back seat. She's happy as can be, looking out the back window or just laying down to wait for us to get wherever it is we need to go. But when the three of us go out, like on our 45 minute drives to Santa Cruz, we usually take my husband's car, a Toyota Four-Runner. We have a doggy gate in the back and Cassie races to the car and jumps in, always anxious to go along, until the car starts and we move down the road.

Then she turns into a barking machine, non-stop from San Jose to Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. Constant barking. Loud barking. Frantic barking.

It's been over a year that she's lived with us and nothing seemed to make a difference. Recently, after a long trip filled with barking in the Toyota I took her on a short trip in the Honda and noticed again how I didn't have any problems with her. I suggested to my husband that we take out the doggy gate and put down the seats so she could come up closer to where we were.

Filled with hope, we invited Cassie to go for a ride. She jumped in the backseat and then walked all the way up to the front and sat down. We started the car and headed down the road.

Silence. Total silence.

This past week we've done several more short trips, around the block a few miles downtown, and each one is just the same. A quiet dog happily going along for a ride. It's not a permanent solution but I think now that we know what the problem was, we'll be able to work on acclimating her to riding in the back. Heck, the view's better back there anyway with more windows. But for now, it's all about getting up close and personal on our family outings.

Some stories are like that, staying in the background, barking at you, begging for attention. They're never satisfied until you bring them up front with you, as close as they can get. But sometimes we're afraid to bring the stories too close. Afraid of what the story might show the world about us or perhaps afraid of the story might show us something we don't want to see.

I never expect that kind of writing to come easily to me. I scream at the computer and throw a few barking fits of my own. I've finally learned that I can't do that kind of deep, emotionally honest writing in one sitting. But I can do it in short bursts, like a trip around the block.

The best stories, the ones that stick in our hearts and minds, are the ones that reflect life as it is, not as we wish it were. The ones that bring us up close and personal.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 6 comments — Leave comment )
(Deleted comment)
November 11th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
I think the doing it without thinking is the key. Lately, with this class I'm taking, I've been so behind with critiquing other people's work that my own pages are being written in the wee hours of the morning just before deadline. At first I worried that they would be horrible and rough and too messy to turn in but instead they were pretty good. Not publishable but good enough for a first draft. And I think it was because I was so tired that my internal gates had fallen down for a time.

I'm learning that a great many short bursts can help me get a lot done.
(Deleted comment)
November 11th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
If you know what I write, my love of your last line,
"The best stories, the ones that stick in our hearts and minds, are the ones that reflect life as it is, not as we wish it were. The ones that bring us up close and personal." will make sense.

Lovely post, Susan.
November 11th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Lee. We are both on the same the page with writing about the hard realities of life.
November 11th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
That's it exactly, Melodye, for both of us the truth of our stories are in the shadow. But if we keep going under, holding out breath just long enough, we can tease the stories out.

Edited at 2009-11-11 04:50 pm (UTC)
November 12th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
I am new to this writing scene, and let's just say I am most probably just writing as a distraction. To escape the realities in my own life. I am creating a life for someone, somewhere else. I get lost sometimes and actually believe that I am there and not here. I also find though like you I cannot write too much at a time because it then becomes too overwhelming and I get too lost and still have to come back to reality some time. So I will just keep battling on and maybe someday I might have the courage to actually let someone read what I have written. I have not even got that far. Except for a few poems. writing though is so much deeper than that so much more involved as you of course know. Totally worth it in the end though I hope.

= Anne McKenna
November 18th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Anne. I think you have the idea. Bit by bit the rain wears down the mighty rock. So will you.
( 6 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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