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.
Minnesota Mary says
I am also dreading the rain that will freeze and make everything icy. Winter is my favorite season! I can dress for cold and wind. I don’t mind shoveling snow. Ice is the only thing about winter that I don’t like since it represents dangerous driving and walking. Hopefully it won’t be too bad! Stay safe!
It’s been very cold and snowy here, too. Usually when it’s below zero, it doesn’t snow, but this year has broken all the rules. The snow has that dry styrofoam sound when you walk on it. We reached the double digits today above zero! The wind was fierce but the sky was blue. I’m always amused at how our expectations fluctuate depending on the context. The other day when I got in the car, it was -14F. By the time I reached my destination, it was -1F. I was thrilled to have gained 13 degrees in 45 minutes.
Love the new cover, much more illustrative of your life and work. Subheads are always hard, trying to convey so much meaning in so few words.
Vicki in Michigan says
Ice in my glass, yes, please. Ice on the ground? No, no, no. It was zero on Saturday morning, here in southeast Michigan, and now they are predicting 52 for Thursday. Our climate is seriously messed up, and that’s the truth. 🙁
Chris from Boise says
Glad to see the new cover – I hope it’ll steer bookstores away from viewing this as “just” another dog book (though Will’s photo was awfully appealing!). I continue to marvel at your bravery in sharing your past traumas, and the book gave me an awful lot to think about in terms of facing trauma.
Does anyone out there have BBC contacts? They have a weekly book program; what a way to reach a huge audience!
How is “George” working out for those hill climbs of yours? Does “he” work on icy paths? Do you use microspikes on the ice? Stay safe out there, all of you (readers included).
Our continued best wishes for you all as you work through Jim’s mom’s broken hip journey. Laura Monaco Torelli’s visit must have been a refreshing (as well as “refreshingly cold”) break from caregiving.
And, belatedly: Yes chocolate!
Not looking forward to the rain in Ohio either as Shaq will track in lots of mud! Happy New Year! Wishing you joy and peace and love in 2018!
I too “kindled” (did I just make up a new word?) the Education of Will. When i think of you, it is perfection perfectly formed from the womb. But no, there are holes in your tapestry of life like mine. At 67 i journeyed to repair the hole left by my sister’s death in a car accident when i was 13. I was with you every step of the way on your road to understanding, thank you. I love your writing style
Really looking forward to reading this, Dr. McConnell. I wrote my post grad psychological research dissertation (2010) on the healing potential that the canine social and behavioural structures brings to us humans. I now work with clients and have always supported the aims of animal assisted intervention in humane ways, with a primary aim of always promoting the animal’s innate values. But the greatest motivator was, how like you, my dogs have helped me through life’s trauma, pain and challenges. Many congratulations on sharing your personal story, and sharing how your dog helped you heal.
Thank you for The Education of Will, and this blog! During the two “warm” days this week, my pup (and friends and their pups), we ventured for the first time into a new dog park/woods heaven. Pups got so muddy but were in their element, trailing along together. So were we humans! Snowing now, and plummeting temps.
I have PTSD and a newly adopted aussie. Your memoir (and most of your books!) arrived to my house in a flurry (in a blizzard?). All of them lifesavers for both me and my new pup, Snowy. Identified so much with you, some aspects of your relationship with your pups. I love your open-heartedness and am learning tons from books/blog. Snowy is benefiting enormously that I am being so well trained!
We live in Minnesota, and I am pondering driving out to meet author at library in Wisconsin next week, but not sure I will make it. Thanks for walking the earth and showing the way with pups. Thank you all dog people blogging here and sharing your experiences.
Wait a second–you were an admin assistant in your 30’s and not already deep into being a dog behaviorist? I’m only 31 and trying to figure out where to go w/ my career–does that mean I can also become a dog behaviorist??
The new cover for the book is amazingly beautiful and I feel like it really fits with its story. Though I did love the first cover as well (Will is such a beauty!) I can fully understand why you prefer this one.
I haven’t bought the hardcover yet as I had only listened to the audiobook, but I loved it and listened to it twice already (it’s been a month since the purchase) and I believe I will purchase the written version as well. To hear about something so vulnerable and emotional has left me amazed at your bravery and strength and your road to recovery has greatly inspired me.
Here in Germany the weather is much warmer, albeit grey and rainy, I guess I should really be thankful for the absence of ice. I wish you the best.
Yes yes yes Kelly-Ann! I didn’t start this career until my mid 30’s, so you are a youngster! Go with your heart girl, it’s the best guide there is.