Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

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On dogs and manuscripts

I have heard about dogs that are so well-behaved, you could leave a plate of food out and they won’t touch it, even if you leave the room. (Even if you leave the house!)

I have heard about dogs that are so well-behaved, you can tell them to stay by the mailbox and they won’t move an inch, even if you forget about them for hours.

And I have seen with my own eyes dogs that are so well-behaved, they walk right by their owner’s side, never straying into the street, never barking at strangers.

Happy Monday! Let's curl up together and hide from the cold. #grumblepup

My little guy is not that kind of dog. Oh, he’s smart and cute and cuddly. (A dangerous combination, trust me.) But if he has a chance, he will make trouble. If we’re not paying attention, he will get into the trash can (even ones with “dog-proof” lids) and eat all the tissues (or worse). He barks at dogs, squirrels, people — anything that moves, really. He has absolutely zero concept of oncoming traffic. And somehow he manages to sleep in just the right spot to take up half the bed. (My half, of course.)

#grumblepup hiding from the storm in the laundry basket.

But the thing is, there’s no point in my wishing for a different or better dog. I have the dog that I have. (And I love him!) So it’s my responsibility to figure out how to train him, how to help him live up to his best. Not the best of other dogs.

Happy birthday to this guy. 6 years old and still keeping it classy. #grumblepup

In case you couldn’t tell, this is also an extended metaphor for writing.

We have all heard about manuscripts that were written in a week. Or a month. Stories that came fully formed into the author’s mind through a dream. Or that flowed out in a perfect first draft. Manuscripts that found an agent right away. Or that got a million-dollar deal.

These manuscripts of mythical proportions are not our manuscripts. There’s no point in wishing for them. All you get is your manuscript. And your manuscript is wonderful, in its own unique ways. So love your manuscript. Work hard to take care of it. Make your manuscript the best that your manuscript can possibly be.

And then go curl up with your dog, cat, or pillow, and be grateful that manuscripts don’t take up half the bed.

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12 Comments

  1. I love this post! This is such a good reminder about manuscripts. It’s a principle that works in so many different areas. Instead of wishing you had what someone else has, be happy with the perks of what *you* have.

    Let’s face it, your dog never looked like one of those super obedient pups, but he’s full of character! And isn’t that the way a writer’s dog *should* be?

    On a side point, what is it that dogs find so delicious about used tissues. Mine used to eat them too!

  2. Perfect is overrated … better that our manuscripts (and pets!) be perfect for us instead. :)

  3. Very true, and the patience is worth it :)

  4. Oh, yes. There may be better stories out there than mine (there definitely are, in fact), but mine are mine, exactly as they should be. When Orson Welles received the lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, he said that if he had made his films differently, they might have been better films, but they wouldn’t have been HIS films. Not that I’m comparing myself to Orson Welles, but I know what he meant.

    I love your image up at the top there, though I have no idea what it is.

  5. Jessica-
    So true: this lesson extends far beyond dogs or writing. :) Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and for the shoutout on Twitter!

    Oh, and the tissue thing is a mystery to me. Dogs are so weird. :P

    Shari-
    Perfect IS overrated. Why do I keep forgetting that?

    Anthony-
    Well, who am I to argue with Orson Welles? ;)

    Thanks! That’s a dividing “wall” between the Experience Music Project and its parking lot in downtown Seattle. Beautiful, no?

  6. Dogs. They wouldn’t be any fun if they weren’t a little misbehaved and messy. I guess neither would writing.

    But what is it about dogs and tissues?? It’s my dog’s worst obsession.

  7. This is one of my favorite posts of yours ever! The fact that Riley reminds me of my own dogs I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with it. Yes, Maggie and Pita are two hot messes, but they’re my hot messes, and I wouldn’t trade them for the best trained dog in the world.

    Next time I get frustrated with my ms, I’ll just look into their adorable eyes and be grateful for it.

  8. Juliann-
    I LOVE your new travel blog! And lol glad to know me and my tissue-lover aren’t alone.

    Natalia-
    Aw thank you! And thanks for the signal boost on Twitter, too. :) Hehe, too bad Riley can’t hang out with Maggie and Pita, maybe while you and I are writing and chatting over hot cocoa… Someday!

  9. Your dog is so cute! Great metaphor. I am always inspired by your posts.

  10. Hi Kristan,

    I saw your comment on Natalia’s post yesterday. One thing (out of many) that I’m lovin’ about being part of The Ball is getting to know new people, checking out site, etcetera. So, nice to virtually meet you. I’m a dog lover — loved this post!

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