Can Dogs Provide Inspiration for Our Writing? Really? A Guest Post by @LinWilder #FridayReads #books
Dogs, writing, and inspiration, are not subjects with correlations we read- or write- much about. Perhaps that’s because over forty percent of us like cats a lot. Or just maybe we don’t stop to think about what the constant, comforting presence of canines provide to our creativity.
A recent reviewer for my latest novel commented that my affection for dogs is made evident through my writing. I understand why he made the statement. Although none of my books is about dogs, per se, each novel features at least one canine companion as instrumental to the happiness of the main characters.
Which leads me back to the central question about the utility of dogs in providing inspiration to writers.
Do they inspire us?
If yes, how...exactly?
Yes, to the first and more straightforward question. There is no doubt that my dogs inspire my writing. A few years ago, I wrote this a visit to a dog beach with the older of our two dogs:
“...but as I think about why walking on a beach watching people play with their dogs is so much fun for me, I realize for the billionth time that dogs teach us happiness. They are the gurus, the experts on happiness.”
Even if you are one of the forty per cent of folks preferring cats, the sheer joy of a dog upon the return of its owner following even a short absence cannot fail to impress, and infect us with some corresponding measure of matching jubilance.
Right. Got that, but─ so what?
How can dogs as purveyors of happiness have anything to do with either inspiration, creativity or our writing?
First, let’s talk about some often repeated lore, better yet, myths, about our craft of writing.
“Excellent novelists are miserable, unhappy neurotics, on a good day. Great writing can emerge only through deep suffering. If you are enjoying writing your novel, it’s most likely badly written.
One of the numerous reasons that I stuck with writing non-fiction for so much of my life is that I bought into this myth completely. The writers I loved as a young English major were either alcoholics, suicidal or psychotic. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound. The cost of writing my novel would be too great. And then the dream slid to the back burner as the responsibilities of life accelerated.
My first book was arduous. Mainly because I believed that it would be really good if writing it was tough, super difficult. Therefore, I made it super difficult.”
I wrote these words a couple of years ago because I realized that the myth of the necessarily miserable neurotic writer, akin to the miserable, neurotic Christian, is sadly alive and well in the twenty-first century. Remarkable that the myth persists because there is so much evidence disputing it. Do an on line search for creativity and happiness, and you will find pages of articles from Psychology Today, Ted Talks other sources that dispute this and other favorite myths. Emphatically so.
Marshal Zeringue writes a delightful blog called Coffee With a Canine. Periodically, Marshal interviews people about the effects of their dogs on─you guessed it─their writing! In the interview, he asks how the dogs help or hinder their writing. Most of us reply with some variation of ‘indisputably, they help.’
If you find your writing to be burdensome, exhausting, joyless, consider studying and then applying some methods of ‘hacking’ your joyous spirit.
Watch your dog the next time you are stuck staring at the motionless, accusatory blinking cursor of your laptop.
He’ll have sage advice for you if you can listen carefully to the silent stare of his gaze.
‘Let’s play!” “Let’s go for a walk!” “How about a belly rub or three?”
You may be amazed at the effect on your writing!
The Cup of Wrath
A Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery
by Lin Wilder
Eighteen-year-old Morgan Gardner did not seem like someone who could save the world—unless you took the time to notice her eyes. And most people didn’t.
Morgan’s exceptional gifts were known only to her and to the animals she could understand better than people. For a long time, she told no one about her nightmares. Embarrassed and afraid that no one would believe her, Morgan waited until it was almost too late. Then she confided in her mom’s best friend, Dr. Lindsey McCall.
Lindsey and her husband Rich had worked hard to reestablish their lives and careers after their last harrowing escapade. Relocated in a beautiful California home and newly reunited with Lindsey’s biological daughter LJ, all seemed to be going smoothly—until an enemy from their past returned with as deadly a plan as they could imagine.
The fourth novel in Lin Wilder’s popular Lindsey McCall series is her best one yet—combining the innovative medical research her readers have come to admire with a new and terrifying threat to the world’s population: a biological timebomb. Vivid characters old and new rampage across the continents of Europe, Asia, and the U.S. to stop the contagion, picking up steam as they head toward a life-or-death climax in the remote Qinghai province of China.
Malthus Revisited adds a dystopian element to Wilder’s evolving Lindsey McCall mystery series, and is guaranteed to captivate both her loyal fans and eager newcomers to its last riveting page.
Present Time, Berlin, Germany
At Braun’s command, Dr. Viktor Dragovik entered the cavernous living room where his boss, Diedrich Braun stood as if posing for an SS recruitment poster.
“Does it work?”
“We are on the third set of mice. All were gone within forty-eight hours.” He was lying, but his expression gave nothing away.
Braun nodded, the motion hardly discernible.
The Serbian doctor waited, knowing better than to assume anything where his boss was concerned.
Still maintaining his ramrod posture, Braun asked, “How much can you make and how will it be dispersed?”
“Enough to eliminate at least six billion people. The dispersion will be through cattle via ingestion. Once in the human intestine, the virus will mutate and be aerosolized. But this has not been tested, so far this is just theory.” This part was correct, in fact, he had no clue if it would work. But was about to find out, very soon.
“When will you be able to test it? And where do you plan to do it?"
“Within the next two months, we will be ready. We have a Chinese prison population of fifteen hundred men for the first test, as soon as you give us the go ahead.” Viktor did not mention that Braun himself would have the privilege of being the first to test the new prion.
This time, the nod of the silver head actually moved several inches, and the bloodless lips smiled. “Well done, Viktor, well done. You may go now.”
Same time. Delphi, Greece
Joe Cairns ambled toward the center of town. Time for his nightly beers. His five o’clock date with the bartender, Demetrius. The kind of sullen brother-in-law of Rafael, who owned the small café.
It had taken three evenings, but now he got a smile out of the depressed sixty-something-year-old bartender.
With all the time in the world and enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, Joe should have been the happiest man in the world. But only when he got to Delphi did Joe understand why David had told him to come here.
Along the fifteen-hundred-mile trip, he had stopped at small hotels and bars in Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, and Macedonia. In most of them, a woman usually sat in the bar alone. And within ten minutes or less, made it plain that she found him attractive. After a while, they all started to look the same, despite their age, language and body type differences. Cairns had no interest in any of them.
Delphi. Heather Malone’s favorite place on the earth. Heather Malone. Who knew why he was thinking of the one girl he could have married, had things been different.
Heather had been enthralled by the Greek myths. She could speak for hours about the gods and goddesses, but her favorite of all was the oracle at Delphi and the well-known maxim carved into the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Gnōthi Seautón, Know Thyself. Joe Cairns thought of her and the admonition now each day in this ancient place filled with the whispers of prophets and prayers.
There was a place Heather had told Cairns about. One unknown by tourists. She had explained very carefully how to get to the rock that Zeus had split. There would be a yellow strip across the path into the forest prohibiting access. But she had said one day after they married and had at least five kids, they would go there together and pray.
Because Zeus was simply another name for the god with ninety-nine names. Heather had read so much about the place that she had described it perfectly.
There was nothing but forest. Just as Heather had predicted all those years ago, the night before she was killed by a drunk driver on the way home from school.
Each day, Joe walked the half mile or so away from the tourist sites and past the yellow strip. And got on his knees in the forest and prayed to an unknown god. And cried.
Joe had not cried since he had been a small boy, but in this place, this sacred place, the tears washed away years of sorrow and regret. He had begun to run again for the first time since he had left the Corps. The Greek food was the healthiest on the planet, consisting of fish, fresh vegetables, olives, and moussaka. Each dish seemed better than the last.
On the tenth day, he sensed before seeing the sandaled feet, that he was no longer alone. And when he opened his eyes to see King David, he was unsurprised.