It’s raining again. This is the third day in a row where I’ve had to take the dogs outside beneath wind-lashed trees, my supposedly waterproof jacket soaking up water like I’m wearing a newspaper cape. I’ve tried to get the dogs to use the yard to do their business, but they’re having none of it. So around the block we go.
It’s a chore, walking the dogs in bad weather, and even sometimes when the weather is fine. There is all of that stupid fiddling around with harnesses and leashes and poop bags and treats, for starters. Then there’s the sheer tedium of seeing the same sights on the same blocks where I live, unless I drive the creatures somewhere so they can run off-leash, chasing squirrels and rabbits, barking to let me know they’ve almost caught their own dinner for once.
Likewise, sitting down to write is a chore. Other, seemingly more important tasks call to me as I’m walking over to my laptop. We’ve run out of milk again. There’s a Himalayan range of laundry to be done, and my car needs an oil change.
But, as the rain soaks my shoulders, I walk the dogs past the house next door and marvel at the new Halloween decorations. I spot a flock (Or is it a gaggle? A murder?) of wild turkeys strutting across the street, the male spreading his tail like a fan big enough to power a shrimp boat. And then I run into a neighbor with his dogs, and as the dogs nose about, tails wagging and happy to be part of a pack, we exchange town gossip. I return home wet and chilled, but happy and ready to start the day. Awake.
Likewise, the writing can be a slog fest. There’s that chapter that doesn’t move the narrative forward, and the dialogue sounds as wooden as that grade-C science fiction movie my husband insisted on watching last night. There’s a dumb but possibly essential flashback that’s weighing down a scene.
But, if I sit here long enough, I’ll toss the dull chapter and shine up the dialogue. I’ll tighten the flashback or jettison it altogether. And, by the time I look up, with hair in my eyes and shoulders aching, it’ll be four hours later and I’ll feel better. I might not get all of it done, but every sentence written or edited means progress. I feel happy. Awake.
After dinner, I’d rather sip wine and watch Netflix, but the dogs want to play. They eye me expectantly, tails going like metronomes, toys between their paws. And so I slide off the dining room chair and sit on the floor to toss a stuffed sheep across the room for one dog to fetch while I play tug-of-war with the other, whose favorite toy is a stuffed dog with a grin just like his. Eventually the dogs slide onto my lap, press close and warm, and we rest.
Then it’s time to take the dogs out again. We watch the moon rise between the pine trees and listen to the barred owl call. Tomorrow, with luck, we’ll get up and do it all again.