The paperback version of The Education of Will is coming out next month (release date is February 27th) and I’m thrilled with the new cover. You might remember that I wasn’t a big fan of the hardcover’s photo, even though Willie’s exuberant face always makes me smile. I LOVE the new cover… more fitting for a memoir I believe, and a favorite photo of mine to boot. (Don’t tell anyone, but that’s Maggie working sheep, not Willie.)
Just as good is the new subtitle, Healing a Dog, Facing My Fears, Reclaiming My Life. Subtitles can be brutally hard to write, and I am grateful for the time that the book’s new editor, Peter Borland, took with me to wordsmith a new subtitle. (Who knew you could even use a new subtitle?)
This is a good time to thank all the people who have made writing the book beyond worthwhile. They have spoken to me, written me and commented on social media that the book has helped them with their own lives–both their personal pasts and issues with their dogs. Here’s one review, from a “Kindle reader”.
I loved this book! Patricia is such an engaging storyteller. She skillfully uses humor and poignancy to take the reader on a walk through some heavy stuff without weighing us down. She is funny, vulnerable and courageous in the telling of her story, but The Education of Will is more than an entertaining memoir. It is educational, inspiring and a call to shine the light on the shadowy suffering and the lasting effects of sexual assault that can and need to be healed. For Patricia, the journey of awareness and healing was evoked through her relationship with her special, albeit troubled dog. This is a great read.
(From me: I should add that the book is about trauma in general, not just sexual assault.)
I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to read comments like this. Thank you all who have sent me supportive comments, I will be forever grateful.
Here’s an excerpt from the book about a time in my thirties, and the need to have a voice:
I walked into a conference room with fifteen men sitting around a table. I sat down, and the director said his name and asked others to introduce themselves. The man to his left introduced himself, then turned to the next person to do the same.
My heart sped up as the participants introduced themselves around the table. Soon it would be my turn to speak. My hands began to shake, and it became increasingly difficult to write the names of the attendees. All my life I had been terrified of talking in front of people. My throat closed up and my mind went blank whenever people turned and looked at me expectantly. I took up needlework in my twenties so that I could avoid eye contact when surrounded by my first husband’s colleagues.
The introductions around the table were getting closer to me. I practiced in my head what I would say: “I’m Patricia McConnell, and I’m the administrative assistant.”
I needn’t have worried. The man to my right said his piece and then turned his head in my direction. As I was opening my mouth to say my name, the man to my left spoke over me. It hadn’t occurred to him that I would introduce myself. As the recording secretary and the only woman in the group, I wasn’t expected to have a voice. As I sat in stunned silence, my face hot with humiliation, the introductions continued around the table.
I would like to tell you that I began my career solely because of a deep-seated passion for animals. It’s true that this was my primary motivation. But underneath my love of animals, I was motivated by something else. After years of feeling like I had no voice, I wanted to be the one with something to say, even though I was afraid to do so. Everyone needs a voice and needs to be listened to. Including dogs. Maybe I could give them that. Maybe I could give it to myself.
I won’t be traveling much for this release, but am hoping to do lots of radio interviews. If you have any special connections with public radio or a favorite station, do let me know.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Balmy! After far too many mornings at 14, 15 or 16 degrees below zero (Farenheit), it is now sunny and 38 outside. But you’ll think I’m crazy, cuz tomorrow it’s supposed to rain and I’d give anything to go back to frigid temperatures. After it rains, it will freeze, and then we will all live on a hilly, sloping ice rink, in which every step is a potential concussion (two legs) or torn tendon (four legs). But I am grateful that we missed the insane blizzard bomb that hit the east coast. I hope you are digging out and defrosting.
In spite of the cold, sheep need to be fed, dogs need to be exercised. Jim and I took a lovely walk last week when it was a tropical 10 degrees. Here is a photo he took in a nearby nature conservancy.
Last Friday I got to spend the afternoon and evening with Laura Monaco Torelli, who is a KPA instructor and TA for Dr. Susan Friedman’s Behavior Works. She is also a warm, lovely person who is crazy fun to talk to about behavior and training. It was exactly 7 degrees outside but she said “Of course I want to watch your dogs work sheep!” So out we went and she took some photos of me and Maggie working the flock.
Maggie and the sheep are out of sight to the right in this shot, but we both liked the sun setting as we walked up the hill together.
Here’s hoping your weather, what ever it is, can not be described with the word “bomb” in the title.