My muse is hairy and has bad breath

Quest2015: twelve days with twelve visionaries to envision my best work in the next twelve months.

But these twelve are not exactly the Twelve Days of Christmas. The gifts of these prompts are loaded ones; they are not light, fluffy offerings, but rather, invitations to sit with the darkness, to grapple with giants, to push off the edge of the map into the bits past the cautionary label “Here Be Monsters.” Like the magical objects offered to the questing third sons in fairy tales, these prompts come loaded with powers that can turn on the wielder like the slip of a sharp knife.

Today’s prompt, from visionary Seth Godin, is titled, “Who Will Miss You?” Seth asks

Who would miss you if you were gone? If you didn’t show up to work, didn’t send out that newsletter, didn’t make that sales call, didn’t tweet that tweet… who would miss it? How does your answer shape how you’ll live out 2015?

You know who would miss me if I didn’t show up to work?

photo by the brilliant Cara of Cara Walton Photography

My dog.

I don’t mean that to sound pathetic. It’s simply true. I’m an unpublished writer. I show up to work at my laptop, the only witness a geriatric terrier. When I write, we’re happy–I’m doing what I’m meant to do, and she’s curled up in a little ball of fuzz doing what she does best, what she can do even in her sleep–keeping me anchored, at least a little, in reality.

I blog weekly, tweet when I think about it, query agents, and keep on writing. Sometimes people read what I write and I think they find value in it, but I don’t know that anyone would have a hissy fit or even particularly notice if I didn’t write for a while.

It surprises me how little this bothers me, and for this realization I’m thankful. Sometimes I worry that I’ll get too caught up in the desire to publish, to make a living doing what I love. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that, for me, writing is necessary. I couldn’t not write and be a remotely happy human being. Writing is how I think, how I make sense of the world and myself and others in it. I want to be published–I want it with a burning intensity that sometimes scares me a little. I want it with a ferocity that the non-publishing non-writers in my life don’t entirely understand. For an awkward introvert, I’m pretty ambitious. But I don’t want to write for the sake of being published. I want to be published so I can support this addictive habit I have of smooshing words together on paper.

And I want to be heard.

Right now, my fiction is reaching an audience of the select few critique partners and beta readers who’ve been gracious enough to spend time with it. One of my novels is with an agent who requested it several months ago. It feels like several million years ago. I’m learning patience–never, ever one of my strong suits. Maybe this is why, right now, I’m okay with my canine witness of one. I’m learning that things happen in the fullness of time, that success never comes overnight, no matter how much it may appear that way to a casual observer.

I want to be heard. I want it to matter to people if I stop writing. But I’m not at that point yet, and that is okay. That’s what I’m working toward, and my experiences with writing over the past several years are gradually rewriting me. I think I’m becoming a better writer–and human–because of them.

So for now, I’m content to know that the only one who’d notice if I didn’t show up is woman’s best friend. She’s not even here for the words–she’s just in it for the company, for the connection.

And really, ultimately, that’s what this writing gig is all about.

15 thoughts on “My muse is hairy and has bad breath

  1. Brenna,

    Something in each of your #quest2015 blog posts has moved me. This one more than any other. Yes. Connection is what your writing gig or my musical one is about.

    With a tear of gratitude in my eye, I wish you a blessed Christmas and look forward to the continuing quest with you in the new year.


    1. Stan, thank you so, so much. Your support has been a gift unlooked-for. This Questing is magical business. I hope you have a wondrous Christmas and that 2015 makes you catch your breath in awe.

  2. So beautiful and puts everything in perspective. I too have a geriatric terrier who pays little attention to me unless she wants to eat or if I’m going out. She would definitely miss me most. Keep writing!

  3. Brenna, you’re so right that it’s all about connection. I am thankful to have connected with you. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

    1. Sue, I’m very thankful to have connected with you, too! And I will get that final question to you……I think the flu has just about left us. Happy holidays!

  4. I really enjoy your writing, Brenna! And for the record, I’d miss you if you stopped showing up to work. Like you, I’m ridiculously impatient – so I think this will be the hardest part of trying to get published. Even more than the rejection (although, I bet that will suck, too!) It’s been so nice to connect with you via Quest 2015. Jeffrey – the GREAT connector of us all! Happy Holidays to you and yours! Looking forward to more reading (and hopefully more writing) in 2015!

    1. Barb, thanks so very much. I’m very grateful to have connected with you, too; I love your writing as well. The rejection is tough, but it’s funny how quickly even this thin-skinned girl made peace with it. Any time you want to commiserate, I’m here! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to an excellent, wonder-ful 2015!

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