As I’ve mentioned several times recently, the family and I are the proud owners of a new home. We moved into a classic “fixer-upper” in the Glassell Park area of Los Angeles last October, and I’ve been plenty busy ever since putting the Humpty-Dumpty its previous owners had reduced the place to back together again (with the help of a few fine contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc., of course).
Not long after we moved in, in keeping with a promise the wife and I made our two kids, we bought a family dog. Our first family dog. His name is Bruno, and he was just a twelve-week-old boxer-slash-fill-in-the-blank (Mastiff? Pit bull?) puppy when we first got him — but look at him now:
As the dog owners among you well know, owning a dog is a lot of work, and much of that work involves walking. Lots and lots of walking. I personally take Bruno out walking at least two times a day. As Glassell Park is almost all hills, depending on the distance I choose to cover, these walks can be a real workout. But I love them. One, because I need the exercise, and two, because telling an author to go out walking his dog is essentially giving him a license to plot. I solve more writing problems in Bruno’s company than I do sitting at my computer desk.
But there’s one other reason I enjoy walking the dog: Discovering my new neighborhood. Exploring all its twists and turns, the “not-a-through-streets” and “no-outlets.” Seeing and meeting the community’s diverse mix of people and marveling at its wild array of architectural styles. In doing all this exploring two, sometimes three times a day, a curious thought has occurred to me: A house is a lot like a writing career.
Every author starts out here: On a vacant plot of land, peering into a future that seems vast and full of endless possibilities.
You sell a book, maybe two. A foundation is built. From that foundation, some authors — good, lucky, or a combination of the two — will go on to construct a veritable mansion . . .
. . . while others will build the foundation of a career and nothing more.
Some writing careers grow slow and steady, one floor at a time . . .
. . . and some either come to a screeching halt somewhere in the construction process, or simply peter out, like an old alarm clock winding gradually, inexorably down.
All too often, when a writing career falters before it can be made whole, it fades away to nothing, leaving little in the way of a mark behind to indicate it ever existed at all.
And then there are writing careers that wane but refuse to die. Work picks up again, the once-dormant build site starts to hum with new life . . .
. . . and another mansion — or comfy cottage — eventually rises toward the heavens.
Or a new plot of ground is staked out upon which to start the construction process all over again.
Funny, the things a writer thinks about while walking his dog, isn’t it?
Proving once again that to a writer EVERYTHING is a metaphor for writing.
Glassell Park. Hmm. Maybe I should be looking there.
Alex: We'd love to have you.
Gar, I love what you did with the pictures and your post about writing. And I adore the pic of you and your dog. What a champ! So glad you have a family dog, now.
Reine & Kendall U..U
Good dog, happy man. — Bill Frissell.
I'm getting back into the dog-walking routine when Mette moves in with Hamley next month. He's no Bruno, more of a gallumphing goof than a lovable brute, but he'll get me out there regardless. (The neighbors have been campaigning for a dog. They never see me anymore.)
There is something very essential to walking. Its pace is the pace of thought.
Thank you. Wishing you and Kendall nothing but the best (with a prayer thrown in here and there, as well).
It's for sure Bruno thinks walking is the pace of thought. He walks as if his feet are full of lead. Boy has a mind of his own.
Cute pic (of you and the dog, that is!). And what a great metaphor for writing.
Maybe all the Murderati authors should self-assess which house we are! Or rather what stage we're in.