I rescued my dog, Mary, two years ago. She had been a breed dog in a puppy mill for five years, and was past her prime. For five long years, she had been in a cage and was picked up only to be inseminated, or to have her babies taken from her.
I studied her behavior as she got used to the idea that she was safe and loved, I couldn’t help but compare her journey to mine as a writer. It’s a bit of a stretch, but let me try to explain.
I have a big back yard, but when Mary first arrived, she would explore it only in three-foot circles. She roamed the entire yard, three feet at a time. As beginning writers, we tend to go in circles, too, as we labor to learn our craft. As Mary became more confident, the circles got bigger. Just like a writer with a few contests under her belt. More confidence translates to trying new things, new genres, and new ideas. Our confidence grows each time a great review of our book gets posted on Amazon or Goodreads.
The big break with Mary came when she was introduced to my sister’s dog. Harry taught her typical dog behavior—how to run up and down stairs, how to roll in the grass, how to play with toys. Things Mary was not exposed to in her puppy-mill environment. As authors, our big break comes when we meet and learn from other authors who have been successful.
Today, Mary would rather hang with Harry than with me. She still gets a bit nervous when I want to pick her up, but she goes to her safe place—her bed—and she’s okay with it. She gets to hear all my stories before anyone else does. The day I saw her running around the house with a red pen in her mouth was the day I knew she was the right match for me, since she embodies Gertrude Stein. I’m a better person, and a better writer, for having Mary in my life.