My Novels

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dog Days of August

What an apt title for today's entry! I'm still struggling along with Otter, even with his hang-ups and neurotic behavior. I thought cats had the corner on neurosis, but Ottie puts them to shame. I haven't given up, but have moments when I think I must have lost my mind to have gotten a dog -- especially one with serious "issues."

Here's how it goes with him and me: He sleeps underneath the cool house all day, then comes out when it's dark. No matter how I try to entice him out in daylight, he just won't come out. Probably that is due to the sweltering heat during the day, and him staying up all night romping in the cool night air, rolling in the damp grass, being brave when it's quiet. I go out there about an hour after dark, call him and he comes running eagerly; he loves being petted, is very affectionate, lets me rub his belly while he's rollling around on the ground. He has now found his full-voice bark, and will occasionally race over to the fence, and bark deep and low, which sounds ominous! I wouldn't want to meet up with him if I were an intruder, though he'd probably just run and hide under the house. However, he seems much braver at night.

I stay out there a couple hours, dressed in long pants and long-sleeve shirt, in order to prevent being bitten by the hoard of buzzing mosquitoes. He plays like a puppy, fetching a ball when I toss it; dragging his toy bones to a hiding place, burying them one night, digging them up the next. And he runs, runs, runs. Maybe I should have him at a race track; I've never seen a dog run so fast. Sometimes he'll just run big circles around a tree in the back yard, as if he can't enough of his own physical power! Perhaps this is due to him being raised in a crate, not having access to outdoors where he could run freely?

Tonight I plan to put his halter on, tighten it better, use the leash to walk beside him around the fence. I'm hoping gradually he can adjust to my pace, and I can control him better. Eventually I will try to change his routine (eating/sleeping) to day instead of night. According to the books I've read about shy dogs, this may take months...and I don't know if I have that kind of patience. The jury is still out, and I don't know if he'll be here indefinitely.

Otherwise, I went to Books-a-Million yesterday, spent a long time browsing. I bought two great books by writers about writing:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg

I'm reading "Bird by Bird" first, and here's a quote I just couldn't resist:

"One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing eveything as material. Sometimes you'll sit down or go walking and your thoughts will be on one aspect of your work, or one idea you have for a small scene, or a general portrait of one of the characters you are working with, or you'll just be completely blocked and hopeless and wondering why you shouldn't just go into the kitchen and have a nice glass of warm gin straight out of the cat dish. And then, unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere, a thought or image arrives. Some will float into your head like goldfish, lovely, bright orange, and weightless, and you follow them like a child looking at an aquarium that was thought to be without fish. Others will step out of the shadows like Boo Radley and make you catch your breath or take a step backward. They're often so rich, these unbidden thoughts, and so clear that they feel indelible. But I say write them all down anyway."

Now then, I find this happens less often in the past few years. I've only written short stories and poetry during this time, but I KNOW that the real-life experiences I have had in the past three years ARE novel material. And while I'm not totally obsessed with it, the basic idea is floating around somewhere in my subconscious. I NEED to get started on it, even if just outlining a general plot and where it might lead. Of course, there will be supernatural aspects, since something inexplicable DID happen to my husband and I during our time in the old farmhouse. I have PROOF. From past owners, right up to my husband's death. Signs, for lack of a better term. I don't even know how to begin, but the storyline will follow closely all our experiences -- and most of those are captured here in this blog. All I have to do is go back and re-read them, if my memory fails me.

The other night I was dozing, almost asleep when this poem demanded I get up and write -- then and there. {All this writerly behavior is seen by some as totally selfish, self-centered; but it is necessary if you become a writer. Friends get upset with your absence; family wonders if you're daffy; and people in general wonder if you are a potential ax-murderer, since you are anti-social and a loner! Such is our cross to bear.}

Speed of Light

Moving in a blur
Faster and faster,
Don't look back
Get caught unaware
Soon, I'll be in a snare
Of loss, heartache & tears.

Dance, laugh, live
In dizzy wildness,
Don't look too close
Or I'll drown down
Into those sad memories.

Move, stay busy, crazy,
Never let yesterday
Catch up and overtake
Me. Spin, tilt, twirl
Like those glittering stars,
Distant, cold, untouched
By human sadness, suffering.
Stars, Time, Life,
Moving at the speed of light
Destined to burn brightly
Then die, done forever, silenced
Like you were one February night.

As painful as the past three years have been, it will be a sad journey to revisit and create/shape a novel out of the wrenching experiences. But maybe that is my way of getting through it, past it?

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