Why I Write

Our Pabu, who does not bite.

I often get my ideas for blog posts from conversations with friends. Last night my daughter Annie and I visited my good friend who is going to California next week and needs a dog sitter. As things turned out, the adorable mutt bit the heck out of my hand (I tried to be a good farm-girl and act like it was nothing), with the result that he is going to a kennel for the week.

What does this have to do with writing?

I’ve known this young man (the dog, I mean) for four years, since he was an even more adorable puppy. His owners dote on him, but they work and he is at home alone for long hours. He has never had any training. He bites. He acts like he’s warmed up to you and then he grabs your hand and sinks his teeth in and won’t let go!

And what does this have to do with writing?

My friend happens to be the woman to whom I passed along my copy of Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner. Here’s a list of questions that Conner suggests exploring (page 148):

  • I think there’s a pattern in my life, and I don’t want to perpetuate it. What is the pattern? Why does it keep appearing?
  • When did it start? How has it evolved?
  • In what ways am I passing it on to the people around me?
  • Why do I want to break it–or why not? What price am I willing to pay?
  • What needs to happen for me to end this pattern?

After I cleaned up my hand and found the anti-biotic ointment, the three of us (the dog was in his crate) reflected on what has to happen next. Well, a professional kennel where the dog can stay next week, safely. My friend speculated on what she will do after that. Annie cried. I hope training will be explored, but if you know your dog bites, can you just keep doing what you’re doing? Our lovely dog has introduced us to a trainer who has rescued at least two impossible dogs and turned them into model citizens. So maybe training can help. Maybe dog training is a reflective activity akin to journal writing. All I know is that it’s easy to go on–for years–perpetuating a pattern and feeling stuck and helpless. Helpless and hopeless. But writing in my journal, and rereading and taking my reflections deeper, is a way of recognizing those patterns and…one hopes…beginning to change them.

It occurs to me that when I’m stuck it’s often because I’m blaming another person or circumstances. It can’t be helped! It’s his fault! There’s nothing I can do!

But there is always something we can do. Finding out what that is, waking up to the possibility of it, becoming willing to see it differently, that’s what reflective journal writing does for me.

What price am I willing to pay to change? Will it be a lesser or greater price than what staying the same will exact?