I am reading another wonderful book by Dean Koontz (Yes, I get in these phases where I practically steep myself in an author’s work). This is structured a bit different – it is a memoir about his dog. Now, being a dog person and having 2 rescue breeds myself – this is something close to my heart. What I enjoyed about the book is not only his revelations of what his dog gave him in life, but his own life story. Successful authors are quite fascinating individuals (actually, non successful authors are just as unique, we just don’t get to read books about their lives as much). Koontz came from a very poor upbringing and grew up with no indoor plumbing. Then when he married his childhood sweetheart and moved to PA, they each worked a few jobs while he tried to get his writing started. His wife came to him one day and told him she would work all the jobs and give him exactly 5 years to get his writing career off the ground. After that – all bets were off.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Koontz’s story was quite intriguing, and I have been thinking about taking a hiatus or cutting back hours to see if I can be more flexible with work time and have more writing time. When I told my husband this story he immediately looked nervous.
“Well, I was thinking about doing something like that,” he offered. “ I can support us for a while and you try to get something going.”
Surprise wasn’t even the word for my expression at the moment. “Are you kidding? You would do that?”
“Sure,” he said, looking quite pleased with his generous offer. “You can take 3 months.”
I realized he didn’t get it – especially when he would probably add all the cleaning, shopping, caregiving and everything else to the deal thinking I was not “working.”
But this is not husband bashing – my husband is pretty fantastic – I just do not see this in my near future.
Back to the dog.
Dogs are like children and writing. They force you to be in the moment. They force you to deal with the little things in life. Food. Shelter. Warmth. Love. Writing brings you to the moment and into your character, you cannot write a scene well if you are anticipating writing the next scene. You must be intoxicated with a character’s thoughts and touch and taste and conversation. Each scene builds to the next to make a successful story. Like us.
Dogs remind us to take a breath and relax. While you are rushing around to get a million things done, and the dogs are demanding affection and welcome because God, you are home, and it is the BEST thing in the whole world that you are just close to them again. Usually, you are forced to pet them and stop what you are doing to be in the moment. It’s a great lesson I get from animals, children, and writing. Taking more of that into the world is my goal.
Koontz terms his dog’s life: “a big little life.” Name of his book, actually. Total brilliance. Isn’t that what most of us are? Not raging celebrities or politicians or people who put us up on Wonderwall the moment something occurs? Nope, we are quiet and ordinary and do these little things that make a big difference.
Like a domino effect, what you don’t think is important usually is, and it trickles down to people in ways we don’t know. Animals remind us we are important and we are loved. So do children. So does our writing. It affirms we are here and who we are puts an indelible mark in this world.