Several months ago after publishing A Specter of Truth, I decided to update Living with a Springer Spaniel: Pete and Me. This would be no easy task, as Pete had died six months prior and I was fearful of opening the emotions that were still close to the surface. Still, the book needed closure, as did I.
I pulled up the old document, and began revising the first few chapters. I created a new document for the kindle version, taking time to make a concurrent draft that could be used in paperback format. Different styles, different fonts. Different margins. Then I revised a few more chapters, backing both formats to the computer and cloud. Not much progress in writing had been made.
A few weeks later, I tried again, knowing I’d have to add that dreaded chapter about Pete’s death. Whenever I get stuck in writing, I return to the beginning and revise. That usually gets the juices going. But it didn’t this time. I just kept reading and revising.
I was sure it wasn’t writer’s block that I was facing. I knew what I needed to write. For the life of me, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t re-live Pete’s last days. I put my drafts aside and began writing my newest story, which doesn’t yet have a title.
I always thought of writer’s block as a glitch in the creative process. That an author can’t imagine a story or a scene. That the printed words don’t resonate. I thought of writer’s block as a blank page with crumpled paper scattered across a desk. I had never experienced such a break in momentum. Whenever I finished one novel, an idea for the next one always popped into my head.
So, I’ve learned something. There can be many reasons for writer’s block, in the physical and psychological realms. In my case, my emotions were getting in my way. And the only way around them was to face them.
I retrieved my draft this past week, and wrestled with every word. Each paragraph of the finale brought quiet tears until I reached the end. Then I cried, deep gut-wrenching, soul-cleansing sobs that I hadn’t done in these many months since making the horrible decision to put Pete down.
I took myself to the Y, and swam 21 laps in the Olympic-sized warm water pool. Non-stop. So there is closure now, for me and for Pete. I buried him “at sea,” with a 21-gun salute. Life goes on, yet I will never forget my best friend. Pete may have been spoiled, but I trained him that way. The revised Living with a Springer Spaniel: Pete and Me is now available as an e-book at https://www.amazon.com/Living-Springer-Spaniel-Pete-Me-ebook/dp/B01H9HCK2W