A Story’s Beginning and Dog Adventures

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

We had a cold few days around this neck of the woods last week. Got down to 3 below, but actually didn’t feel all that bad because the wind didn’t blow much and the sun was shining brightly. The next day when it was 20 something degrees, I actually got colder when I went walking. No sun that day and major wind.

We had an interesting week dogwise. My big chocolate lab decided to take a wander and was gone overnight. Turned up beside the parkway about a mile and a half away as the crow flies and six or so miles by car. Somebody had called the animal shelter about a chocolate lab being hit beside the road but said he was still moving. I had called earlier hunting Dub and so they called me. I said that can’t be my dog. He wouldn’t go that far. I guess I should never say never. We get in the car to go check it out and there’s Dub laying up on the rise beside the parkway. I get out thinking, “Poor dog.” And he stands up and wags his tail. He hadn’t been hit. He’d just been doing his “stretch out and sleep in the sunshine” routine that has fooled others into calling me to ask if he was still breathing. So he comes down the hill wagging his tail and looking at me as if to say, “Good, my ride home is here.” A neighborhood female is courting and even though Dub is supposed to be neutered, he’s still twitter-pated and had followed her off. We gave her a ride home too along with the other two neighborhood dogs that were with her. You should have seen us trying to get those dogs in our van and shut the door without any of them escaping. All while the traffic was whizzing by. We would have gotten our time on Funniest Videos for sure. Anyway, Dub’s been confined to the house ever since. He’s hating that – being inside in the warm – getting lots of attention. I’ll never keep him on the farm after he’s found out the perks of running off!!!

I’ve begun my next Shaker book. My deadline is looming out there and getting me worried so I’m back to the ‘make your fingers touch the keyboard and crank out some pages every day and hope the words make sense’ mode. I think maybe the hardest thing about writing a book is the beginning. At least I think that until I get about a hundred pages in and then I think the hardest thing about writing a book is trusting my story through the middle. So far the endings of any of my stories haven’t put me into a panic but there’s always the first time for everything. I like my new characters, but I would have liked to have had a few more months to absorb some more history. I want to be true to the time of the story and get the atmosphere right.

The hard thing about writing a book in half the time it usually takes me is all the other things going on at the same time. Just because I’m writing a book doesn’t mean the laundry doesn’t need doing or the grandkids don’t need visiting (they don’t stay young long) or the dog doesn’t need chasing or I could name a hundred things that can get in the way. Even writing stuff can get in the way of getting a new book out of my head onto paper or the computer. I’ll be getting the pages of The Believer soon and have to do edits, etc. I want to make more personal appearances and bookstore visits. I want to do more research reading. I want to keep writing my blog. I need to go to the Shaker Village and walk around and let the buildings speak to me.

I’ve always thought I ought to be able to do it all, but sometimes I can’t. And ouch! It’s hard to admit that to myself. What I need to remember is that I have the time the Lord has given me and ask Him to help me use it wisely and well. And not to spin in place worrying about doing this or that. Just do it! Five pages a day. I can do that. Lots of writers spill out many more words a day than that. But you know, none of us are ‘lots of writers.’ We are unique individual writers with our own abilities and talents, and we have to figure out what works best for us. Not what works best for those other writers. And if the five pages I write aren’t the right words, then I can work them over the next day and keep trucking.

Now I’d better go see about my dog, Dub. You know, make sure he’s comfy and has plenty of fresh water and a nice warm bed. That dog thinks he’s hit the jackpot for sure.

I hope you all have great weeks and stay warm while you’re reading (or writing) some great stories. Enjoy!