Take a shower. Get dressed. Stoke the fire. Make a To Do list. Staying home isn’t new to me. I’ve been living a modified #stayhome lifestyle for years. For me, it’s been both economic and psychological. If I go out, I tend to spend money. Since I make very little money, staying home (and staying away from online seductresses like Etsy and Amazon) has been a conscious choice. Save gas, save cash, make it myself or go without — these have been the rallying cries of the Bramleywolves for the past 6 or so years.
A huge part of that lifestyle has been writing. Writing for clients, writing this blog, writing short stories, but front and center – writing my book. The Book. Working on the book has occupied a central part of my Bramleylife for the past 6 years. Or not working on the book and feeling the need to work on the book (which is a huge component of writing).
And now it’s done. You may buy The Book. It’s out of my hands, and available on the shelves. To get your copy, click here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0868Y7Z9J (e-book version) or here, for the paperback: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B086BC11HZ?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
It’s a strange feeling, being finished. I mean, now the real work begins. Writing is the fun part. It’s the beautiful part, for me. I love words, and I love thinking about my dogs, life, nature, wildlife, and how to be the best human I can be. I love the process of finding the words to share what is so often wordless. Wonder, joy, love… for me the process of writing is like a funky internal rodeo in which amorphous concepts get rounded up, hog-tied, and branded. Hmmm, maybe that’s a little violent. Rounded up and hugged, smooched on the nose, and given an embroidered collar with a pretty daisy on it. Ok, that’s kind of cloying. But the search and the consideration, the trying on of phrases and paragraphs… it’s joyful. It’s the shower in which my soul belts out Born To Run, off key and off tempo but enthusiastic as fuck. Eventually I find the phrase that works, years go by, and the book gets written.
The cool thing about art (writing or any other form) is that sharing it is the point. Art is by nature communal, although its creation is often a solo act. The sharing is at once vulnerable and triumphant; my fervent prayer is not just that others like it, but that it connects. Strikes the chord, hits the nerve, touches the soul… and somehow feels helpful. I guess that’s the big goal. Not only do I hope that readers are entertained by Asking A Lot, although that would be enough, but I hope that readers are somehow helped to feel a sense of community – that they are not alone in how they think, feel, or get by. If I can help one reader heave that sigh of relief and say “Whew! So I’m not the only one who feels that way?!?” I’ll be delighted. I wrote the book in part to sort my own life out, but also to give voice to what I just don’t hear enough – simple commonsense approaches to life with dogs.
And here we are, sharing a moment in history in which we are all struggling to adjust to constant anxiety, questions, loss, and tremendous uncertainty. How long will this social distancing last? When can I have my life back? What will my world look like when this is all over? Are you already sick and tired of thinking that phrase: “when this is all over?” I had a beautiful heart to heart last night (over Messenger) with a friend struggling to be productive and focused during this time. She said to me “how can I focus on MY work? It seems petty and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.” I hear ya. The hubris of releasing a book about dogs and nature now, in the midst of a pandemic, seems incredibly small and selfish. Trying to promote the book and ask people to purchase it seems almost absurd.
And yet… here’s what I hope: that reading my book (and any other book! READ ALL THE BOOKS!) will give you some respite from the uncertainties and relief from the dreadful feeling in the pit of your stomach. Come with me on my morning walk, laugh at my ridiculous conundrums, and let yourself have a few moments of escape. Yesterday, Peeka killed a dead mink on the morning walk. Truly, I can’t make this stuff up. But I can shake my head and laugh, and so can you… even while you’re worried.
I’ll do some author events too. Facebook Live and Instagram Live: I can do a reading, answer questions, and yell at my dogs and Tom “live” and we can build an Asking A Lot online community of support. Heck, we already have one every Friday morning on Facebook!
Read, enjoy, and if you feel moved to do so, share! Your social media shares can help Asking A Lot reach beyond our inner circle and into the larger dog community. That would be a dream come true for me and the gang.
Be safe, hang in there, read, and connect. We’re all in this together.