It Takes a Village to Write a Book: More Lessons from My New Dog

It Takes a Village to Write a Book: More Lessons from My New Dog

There was Stryder, my gentle giant of a dog, standing on the table.  I felt overwhelmed.  Have you ever felt this way about your creative work?

Last night I was sitting at my patio table and writing on my laptop. All of a sudden, there was Stryder, my gentle giant of a dog, standing on the table. He is now very comfortable in his new home; he no longer cowers in fear but jumps! He jumps on tables, on chairs and on me. This concerns me because he is rather huge. I have been trying to follow the “train your dog” advice. It is not quite working. This was the final straw; I felt overwhelmed.

I am fortunate to have so many dog loving friends who have come along beside me in The Big Stryder Adventure. This rescue/adoption would not have been possible without two amazing ones, Vikki Porter and Diane Carmony. In the very beginning Diane said, “It will take a village to raise Stryder.” He came from a rough background. Together we formed a Facebook message group called, New Dog Family. This has been a lifeline for me. Last night I FB messaged them the photo of Stryder on the table and typed in, “Feeling overwhelmed.”

Have you ever felt this way in your creative work? I have. Sometimes we need “a village” to reach our goals. When we try to make goals happen all by ourselves we can come to a screeching halt. How many times have we started a project only to abandon it half way? We may bail out when it is 9/10 of the way completed. What happened to that enthusiasm, that burning fervor? The truth is, we get scared and our fear tastes like chicken so we don’t identify it as fear. Perhaps we get stuck and are not sure what to do. We get tired. We start to listen to the seducing whispers of doubt. They lull us into a place where we wonder what possessed us to think we could even do this. I really need help with the training of my new dog. It is often the same way with our writing.

It’s a big job to begin and complete a project like a book. We need others as we grow. And in that place we can learn to ask for help. We are helped when we gather, share and are heard. In these villages we remind each other that chicken is not  the food of choice.

IMG_1071If you have ever met me, you know I’m pretty independent. Yeah, ok, I’m REALLY independent. But Stryder is teaching me I NEED to ask for help. Oh, and did I tell you my foot is in therapeutic boot up to my knee? Sigh. So yes, I too am learning to ask for help. This old dog (me!) is learning new tricks.

In the writing classes I teach I am both facilitator and encourager; I believe everyone has amazing potential.   I recognized that one of my students, Michael, was already a great writer when he first came to my class. Residing in New York, Michael Milton now writes for The Brooklyn Michael MiltonReader.   He wrote,  “Annie…I hope you tell people that I am one of your success stories!   Really, in terms of writing, it was your kick in the proverbial butt that got me enthused about writing again…I’m all excited right now because my latest piece in the Brooklyn Reader just got the most hits ever for anything they published…I think that’s pretty cool…my editor has written TWICE today to say ‘even MORE people have read it….”

Like all of us, Michael Milton needed a safe and challenging place to be heard. He needed true encouragement.  He is now creating incredible work and is not slowing down.

We are all in this together, creative ones. You don’t have to do it alone. Trust me, “feeling overwhelmed” or stuck is NOT the final destination. I am learning/learned/continue to learn that independence is not the way to go when you are trying to run the race.

I will  be facilitating a new venue called The Writers’ Room, a virtual online gathering where writers can meet to share, to grow, and to discuss their work.   Here we hold ourselves accountable. We move towards completing (or starting) our projects.

The Writers' RoomIMG_0936Consider being a part of  The Writers’ Room:   Each group is small and supportive.  Each session is  four weeks long; you  may take as many sessions as you like.   Join us from the ease of your own home. Maybe you need a village too?  

Please contact us for more information.

Read more of Michael Milton’s work

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