Old Dog, New Trick

Old Dog, New Trick

In my last post, I talked about inevitabilities, like rejection in the writing life. But there are ways to make that inevitability a little less so. First, and always, the story needs to be compelling, but most of us have a captivating tale or two to tell. If you want people (besides your family and friends) to read it, the writing itself (the craft of the piece) needs to be solid too. This, I think, is where some miss the mark, sending their work out too soon. It takes time to learn the craft, and it takes writing, re-writing, and yet more re-writing for a story to be ready for the wider world. And a book, well, for most of us who take that on, writing a book is a journey that takes years. For me, as a geologist who has worked on such things, the most apt metaphor would be that the foundation has to be solid for a structure to stand.

These days, the writing isn’t all it takes, perhaps it never was. But now more than ever, a writer needs to find their readers (and show editors considering their work that they have). So here’s the new trick this particular ‘old dog’ is going to learn. How to jump into the world as an author, as well as a writer.

Looking up synonyms for author, I find writer, yes, but also, inventor and creator and instigator. And source, cause, and origin. That I can relate to—without ever putting it into words before, I’ve invented and re-invented myself after devastating losses, after illness, and through the inevitable smaller disappointments of life. Not only have I written and re-written a book, I have written and re-written my life. I am the author of a life I’m incredibly grateful for and pretty darn proud of.

Maybe there’s no trick for this ‘old dog’ to learn. Maybe all this ‘old dog’ needs to do is be willing to reveal her authentic self to the wider world, like dogs (old and young) always do. Have you ever met a dog who wasn’t truly themselves? Nope, me neither.

There are nuts and bolts to stepping out into the wider world, to showing up for a broader audience, so I’m collecting resources and equipment, and taking classes and webinars that will provide me with those skills and tools. Let the training begin! I’m going to jump into this endeavor as I have to so many others (like deciding to write a book, for one).

And speaking of jumping, you can teach old dogs new tricks. Capi, who will be fifteen next month, was quite motivated to learn how to jump for, and often catch, after-dinner treats. She learned this neat trick a couple of years ago, at an already advanced age for a furry four-legged friend. But not only did she learn the trick, she trained us to toss three treats each, and no less. And believe me when I say, she can count.

Here’s to all the beloved old dogs, who show us how to live life in the most authentic way. I, for one, am working on learning the lessons those pups have for me. How about you, readers? Who do you want to show up as? Who do you want to be in the world?