Nancy: When Life Just Doesn’t Cooperate

Wd358b-jeanne2baccepting2bgolden2bheartriters, and perhaps other people who expend any energy pondering writers, tend to wax poetic about the idealistic vision of a writer’s life. This particular fantasy might be full of never-ending supplies of coffee, chocolate, wine or other choice vices. It definitely includes hours upon hours of uninterrupted solitude in which to create the next great masterpiece that the world simply must have, interrupted by rare but exhilirating trips into the outside world to receive kudos and awards, like our own Jeanne, pictured here. Left to our own devices, many of us might try to achieve this nirvana, and our family and friends would never hear from us again. Luckily for us, life has a way of protecting us from ourselves by delivering regular doses of writing interruptus.

At least that’s the story I’m telling myself after a weekend full of interruptus and seriously devoid of writing. It’s okay, I tell myself, writers can’t just write about life; they must have real-life experiences to feed the stories. It’s a nice thought, but none of my recent interruptions seem likely to make it into my stories anytime soon. Still, we all know the importance of mentally filing away our experiences, because we never know when some random memory will provide the perfect detail or spark the idea for the perfect scene for a WIP. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from just a few of this weekend’s many, many interruptions. Maybe they’ll provide a spark of inspiration for your WIP.

Dogs are a lot of work. I mean a LOT of work. I’m not even talking puppies here. I’m talking about the 2-year-old dog who showed up at our house last Saturday, and who will, by the time you read this post, be waiting for her rightful family to pick her up and take her home. She was our foster dog for a mere nine days and my husband provided 75% of her care to my measly 25% contribution, but I’m nearly as exhausted as I was when we had a baby. Some of our foster dog’s boundless energy and desperate need for company (as evidenced by the custom blinds she destroyed during the one three-hour period she was left alone all week), is apparently due to being a Beagle.

There are, we’ve been told, lower-maintenance breeds out there. But I’m not sure there are any that are sweeter and happier to see people, any people, all people, and dogs and cats and bunnies (althought her main interest in bunnies is chasing them). And there are other breed-specific traits we learned about Beagles during this exciting week as well, for example, the way they spend most of their outdoor time with their snouts to the ground, sniffing out any and every critter they can find, ‘pointing’ (one front leg bent up, nose out) when they find something really interesting, and resorting to a distinctive and disconcerting beying when they really want your attention.

In a recent post, Jilly talked about looking for the right breed of dog for one of her characters, and lots of people chimed in with great ideas and breed traits. I didn’t have much to add to the conversation because, like Jilly, I’m not a dog owner. I’m a dog lover, in fact an animal lover in general, but I am not a font of knowledge. But I do know a thing or two about Beagles, for Jilly or anyone else adding a dog into the story mix. Your heroine wants an adorable, loving but needy companion who wakes the neighbors with nighttime howling? A Beagle is the perfect choice. But if she wants a guard dog? A Beagle’s not the best choice unless she wants the dog to invite the bad guys into the house and show them around, all while begging for attention, maybe to distract them while our girl gets out her trusty frying pan to defend herself. Thinking of writing a Beagle into your WIP? Let me know. I’ve got a few anectdotes you can use.

Traveling with unpredictable creatures is not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach). This is one of those things I learned as a young parent but somehow forgot as the years went by and my baby grew up into a much better-traveling adult. This week I re-learned that lesson while on an unavoildable out-of-state trip with our foster dog in tow. I don’t want to go into too much detail here – really, it’s just too soon – but let’s just say, if you’ve written about someone traveling with a pet or a small child and there is no mess, no fuss, and no disgusting stuff to clean off car or train or plane seats, you, my friend, must be writing a fantasy novel.

Husbands really can be real-life heroes. I didn’t want this post to be all about dogs, even if the stress of dog ownership does seem to be the lesson the universe wanted me to learn this week. So I thought I’d add this cliché uttered by nearly every married romance writer who’s ever won an award. If I am ever fortunate enough to win such an award, I will try very hard not to utter this phrase (and the other eight ladies will thank me for that). But you know, sometimes clichés become just that for good reason, like being true.

As previously mentioned, my real-life hero husband (I had to say it here because he knows I’ll never say it in an award acceptance speech) turned his life inside-out and upside-down to be the primary foster dog caregiver so I could meet insane deadlines at my day job. And he has a pretty high-stress day job himself and is running low on energy, too. So when we arrived home from our out-of-state trip and I made the horrible discovery that I’d left my computer and its bag with all the things in it that I need to do my day job, the last thing I expected was that he would give me a kiss, tell me not to worry, pick up his keys, and head back to the car for a three-hour round-trip to retrieve my computer. But that’s exactly what he did, just like the heroes in our stories who bring our girls exactly what they need, when they need it, without being asked first. My hero! *cue swoon onto my fainting couch*

So that’s how my glamorous writing life went this past week. Did you get the chance to hole up with wine and chocolate, or did the universe have interesting and exciting lessons for you to learn, too?


14 thoughts on “Nancy: When Life Just Doesn’t Cooperate

  1. What a wild week you’ve had! I hope things will be on a more even keel next week. (-: And that all these adventures are story seeds.

    Because someone really needs to write the book, “Invasion of the Beagle”. (-: Maybe with an older heroine who has gotten in a rut with her partner and just needed a rescue dog to shake up their lives and help them rediscover why they fell in love in the first place. (Oh, if I only had the time! But the last thing I need is another half-finished novel on my plate.)

    • “Invasion of the Beagle: One Writer’s Real-Life Adventure”. I’ll need a ghost writer for that one, as I’m too close to the material ;-).

      • LOL, fictionalization is whole lot more fun, though. I’m sure you two are not in a rut. (But isn’t it always so nice when the husband does something so charming? Mine carried my lunchbag out to the car this morning. Aw.)

  2. While amusing, your dog posts are not helping me get any closer to jumping back into the puppy-ownership life 🙂 Warm, loving companions though they are, there is a lot of work there too. Not for the faint of heart or, when traveling, the weak of stomach.

    As for life not cooperating – this week it was All About the Ants. There has been a lot of cleaning and washing and cleaning again. When I cleared them out of the bathroom, they appeared in the bedroom. When those were vanquished, they reappeared in the kitchen. On the plus side, floors, cabinets, and counters are sparkling clean and the fact that all my kitchen goods are in sealed plastic containers meant I didn’t have to throw away anything.

    Cleaning did give me plenty of time for brainstorming. I’ve fully mapped out act 1 of my new contemporary romance (which I hadn’t planned on writing, but the ideas appeared so I could hardly ignore them). Anyway, always a bright side.

    • Good luck with the ants. I have no words of wisdom there to share. We’ve really only had issues with them around the doors, and have resorted to the toxic stuff to deal with them. I’m glad you could use the cleaning time to brainstorm. I sometimes work out plot problems while cooking, but not while cleaning, which is one of the reasons I’d much rather cook than clean.

    • We had mystery flies in the bath area — too big for fruitflies, too small for houseflies. It looked like a Hitchcock movie in there. I think we’ve got it taken care of, but whether it was due to baking soda and vinegar down the drain, or if it was simply not the season for weirdo flies, I do not know. And am not eager to repeat the experiment.

      At least we didn’t get invaded by locusts. (knock wood)

  3. Between the construction project going on in our house and school stuff, I didn’t get anything done, either. Way behind on my schedule. I think I have to just push everything back two weeks, which stinks. But hey, that’s life.

    As for the dog, TOTALLY a lot of work. I couldn’t survive without doggie daycare.

    Yay to your awesome husband. He’d be my hero, too!

    • I have thought about you and Chewy frequently this week :-). During the two or three minutes we considered whether we should try to keep the dog (before we found her owners), we talked about doggie daycare, but we wouldn’t even know where to start. I hope all your construction woes are over soon, and that both of us will be able to get back to our WIPs this week!

  4. Your husband deserves a medal! My Australian Shepherd/Black Lab mix is ten, and generally too old to be much bother, but she was due for a vet visit and a bath this weekend. And a long walk in the woods, but I’d do that anyway.

    I once worked with a woman who had unwittingly bought a new home in a neighborhood with 5 beagles. She believed pretty firmly that there should have been a paragraph on the disclosure statement revealing that.

    • 5 beagles! If they all got going at once, that would make quite a racket. The one we’ve had is not that noisy and was rarely lonely enough to need to howl, but it was amazing, the big sound that could come out of that little dog!

    • What Kay said! Sorry for your disrupted writing schedule, but am making notes. Thanks for all the lovely research material 😉

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