Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How a New Puppy is Like a New Novel

by Elizabeth

"Please, please, please can we get a puppy? We'll do all the work! We promise!"

They may beg for months, years even. You, the mom, aren't fooled by this. You know that the responsibility will fall to you. The letting out, picking up, playing with, walking. Kids and dads may swear that they will do the brunt of the work, but you spend your day in the house, and the rest of the family doesn't. It's clear: that puppy will be yours.

Which is why the sane answer is no. NO! And you mean it.

Until you break down, go see the puppy someone at your husband's office posted a picture of on the bulletin board, and watch as your children ooh and cuddle and beg. Your mistake is smiling, and bending over, stroking the nine-week-old baby, watching as he sits. He sits! He is calm and sweet and his fur is short. No shedding.

You meant no. But on Saturday that doggie comes home.

And within three hours, both kids come to you and tell you they didn't realize it would be So. Much. Work.

What?! What work!? All that's happened so far is playing.

In the next two weeks, they do help. When told. Mostly, you feed, you walk, you scoop the poop. The dog follows you around. You are stuck in the house more often than you'd like, too guilty to lock the puppy in his kennel for the time it would take to (fill in the blank). For now, at least, until housebreaking is achieved and couch-chewing vanquished, you are stuck. There he is, adorable and frustrating, and So. Much. Work.

A new novel. It stews in your mind, for months, years maybe, ideas forming and swirling, taking shape, losing shape, reforming and spinning again. One day you pull out the notebook or open a new file and begin. You might take pages to a critique partner, who'll offer ideas, but the brunt falls to you. That story follows you around, and you are stuck until characters are achieved and plot holes are vanquished, too guilty to put down your pen for the time it would take to (fill in the blank).

And like that adorable puppy, completing a novel is So. Much. Work. And I mean it.


  1. LOL. Brilliant analogy, Elizabeth. I so love your sense of humor.

  2. You can appreciate this especially if you have's always the same mantra. I'll take care of it Mom.

  3. I printed this off to refer to often as I plod along on my book.

    I have a working dog for the deaf. The first two weeks I had here we had to be leashed together 24/7 inside and outside of the house. Try cooking dinner or doing laundry with a dog on a leash.

    In the end it paid off. Pickles was aware of who her new owner was and who she was suppose to take care of. All that work pays off. I'd like to believe it will be the same with my book. (Hugs)Indigo

  4. So true! And you end up loving your work just as much as you love that puppy;)

  5. Well, I will say that the long walk this morning did help me sort through some knotty plot issues. I guess George (his middle name is Wishbone, by the way, so that makes him George W., but he's named for the original George W--the Eighteenth Century man) will get more exercise the more trouble I have, eh?


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