Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wisdom in 140 Characters

My Twitter time just got justified, friends.
Stella died in mid-April and in her final days, she exploded my mind by revealing the whole secret to our tumultuous 12 years together. Before she died, I promised her that I would write her story -- knowing that I had to write the end first because 1) memory and 2) she gave me the best ending "another book about a dog" could have.
But I've been avoiding that heart-breaking, gut-wrenching task. With any writing project, starting is the hardest part; when you have to start with the end, which is a dog's end of life, well, damn, it's even harder.
Actually, my summer project was to write Stella's story. An 80,000-word draft in eight weeks. No problemo. But in mid-June, a publisher contacted me after reading my book proposal for a collection of essays based on my Field Notes columns (oh, yeah, baby!) and suddenly, I thought I was going to be writing 34 essays this summer. On the advice of a trusted writer friend, I've been waiting to hear back regarding the publisher's level of commitment to the project (34 essays 'on spec' is a lot to ask of any writer).
In the meantime, I've been trying to settle on a day to tackle the end of Stella's story. I haven't cried since the day she died, I haven't thought about her final days (not wanting to erode the details), I have enjoyed getting to know Abby as the one-and-only dog. I know I need the house to myself so I can let loose again -- snottin' and blattin' (as my husband says) all over my keyboard.
Seriously, who wouldn't avoid this task?
Yesterday morning, Dwayne told me he heard Stella walking in the hallway to our bedroom in the middle of the night.
"The dog and the cat were on the bed, you were asleep, I was in bed so I figured it had to be Stella."
Well, I woke up early this morning, when it was still dark, and lying there sinking slowly back into sleep, I heard Stella whine.
This morning, I tweeted, "I need to write about my dog's death three months ago but I keep avoiding it. Early this a.m., heard her whine. She's waiting..."
And Marion Agnew, a writer (essayist, I think, who has written about her mother's journey with Alzheimer's) who lives near Thunder Bay, ON, tweeted in response: "And you are ready."
When I thanked her for the nudge, she replied, "Not to get all woo-woo but if you hear the voice, you're ready! Sounds like a worthy project."
You know what? It really is. 
That's all I needed to remind me that Stella's story was the original project of the summer and so while I wait to hear from the publisher, I will start writing her story. This Wednesday, in fact. I am ready. And Stella is waiting... impatiently as ever. 

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