More accurately, it is my turn to finish writing something I’ve been working on for a few years–a memoir. I’m close to finishing a draft to send off to my agent (the brilliant Jennifer Gates, an angel of an agent to whom I owe the world already). It is tough to split my days working on a book different from one I’ve ever written before from all the other facets of my professional life. Memoirs are famously difficult to write, and silly me, I decided to write a “mutual memoir” about me and Willie, giving myself an extra challenge. I want to write a book that is personal, unflinchingly honest, and yet underscores universal truths about the human (and canine) condition. That is what all good memoirs should do. But they are not easy to write, I can now attest. When you read them, good ones flow as if there was no other way they could have been written, but I guarantee you there was a lot of editing and re-organizing that went into the final copy. What to say, what not to say and when to say it, turns out to be the greatest writing challenge I’ve ever faced.
I’m close to finishing what I hope is a final draft, and in order to do so I am going to unplug from the rest of my professional life this week. I now understand why writers often want to escape to that cabin in the woods; it is astounding how many distractions rip you away from your writing. If it’s not a crisis at the office, it’s the maple tree that has to come down before it falls on your car, or the gate that didn’t shut well enough and let the ram out to the ewes you didn’t want bred. I don’t have a cabin to escape to, and the farm will still be the farm, but at least I am going to focus most of my day on finishing a draft of the book so that I can send it off, take a deep breath and hope-beyond-hope that I have written something good enough to be published. If all goes well, at some point it will go out to publishers and some editor will like it and fight for his or her house to take it. I have no idea if that will happen–the publishing world is very different than it was twelve years ago: my agent said she wasn’t even sure that The Other End of the Leash would be published if I sent it out now. Of course there are always alternatives to a big publishing house, but it is always better for one of the big hats to take it on.
Cross your paws for me that I can finish up a draft that is good enough to send out. Every day I’ll go out into the woods and soak up any “good writing energy” you all might be able to send my way.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm. It’s balmy! Highs in the 30’s! Lows no lower than 15 or 20 degrees Farenheit. Ah, be still my heart. After temps going down to zero and highs in the single digits, this weather is just lovely. Maggie and I have been working sheep every day–she is just beginning to get a handle on inside flanks (which asks the dog to run the opposite of their instincts), working in tight areas with more confidence and discovering that, deep inside her, she has the power to move balky sheep who are happy to turn and confront her. We are having a ball.
Willie is in the best shape he’s ever been; he and Maggie play so hard twice a day that sometimes I stop them lest Willie blows a gasket. I also don’t think he has ever been happier. Sometimes he looks at me with so much joy in his face that my own heart expands as if it couldn’t be contained inside of my chest. He adores Maggie and playing tug and run-run-running hard an fast every day.
Tootsie is good too. Yesterday she went for her annual health check for the Pet Pals program. All the dogs go into the UW Vet School clinic the same morning, and we all have a great time in the waiting room together. The dogs are absolutely bomb proof and are happy to greet one another. Tootsie adores it, she goes in with her spaniel tail wagging like a drum stick in a rock band. We two-leggers love it too, because we don’t often get a chance to all be together. Here are some of the other wonderful dogs in the Pet Pals program:
Elvis is being cuddled in friend Halle’s lap. All the kids love Elvis, whose tongue always hangs out because of a jaw injury. Many of the children we visit at the American Family Children’s hospital have been badly injured too, and they love hearing stories about how happy Elvis is now.
The sweet and lovely Angel is another favorite–you couldn’t find a more gentle dog if you tried. Angel is rocking the latest in Christmas wear…
See you all in a week! Hope it is a good one for you.