A Gentle Hand

Part of my pursuit of writing….well, perhaps “pursuit” isn’t the correct word, but neither is stalking (I’m put in mind of the old Monty Python skit, “Stalking the Royal Family”)…my wooing (?) of the written word has been to have a gentler hand with myself. No more internal recriminations, a bit less judgement of self (I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t suffer from a surfeit of judgmental tripe, most of it aimed at themselves). I feel a bit like a naturalist, or like poet Mary Oliver walking her quiet away among the woods and ocean dunes, letting Nature come to her as it will. It’s a bit like courting a deer, ready for it (“it” being the ability to write) to bolt and hie off into the woods.

Writing slowly is a bit frustrating, but also illuminating. I take time to search for the precise words, often writing the same sentence over and over again until it feels right. (My former tendency was to just get it down and worry about fixing it on the rewrite. Now I enjoy taking that time to seek what I’m really wanting to get at.

I dunno. It works for me at the moment. Frankly, I’m grateful to be able to write anything. And, as I shared with a few friends this week, I actually finished a piece! Twenty-thousand words written over three months. Not gonna win any marathons with that, but I don’t care. The question remains whether it’s garbage, of course. I don’t want it to be….and I honestly don’t think it is…but it’ll be curious to see what my go-to readers have to say about it.

I’m also starting to take better care of myself mentally. In line with that, I finally tracked down a dog that seemed to fit the bill for what we were looking for. Those of you who’ve patiently stayed with me over the past three years know that we lost our most-beloved Australian shepherd, Holly, in the early summer of 2020. I’ve lost a number of pets through the years and each one hurt, but this was one of the worst. Two years after the fact, I would occasionally find myself wracked with sobs over that silly, marvelous, clown of a dog.

But now there’s Sika.

She’s not a substitute for Holly, nor a replacement (there could be no such thing), but she is a creature entirely of herself; an Aussie/Golden mix (the rescue’s best guess) taken from a bad situation by an animal rescue group in Kentucky and then given to the wholly remarkable folks at Australian Shepherds Furever (yes, that’s  how they spell it), who fostered her for two months, showed her off on Facebook, and were kind enough to approve our application. She’s been with us six weeks, and in that time I’ve been blessed to watch an animal’s miraculous ability at recovery. A dog who should hate people greets everyone with joy. Heck, she greets everything with bliss – dogs, cats, horses, you name it. (Even a skunk we met on the trail, who blithely tipped his hat, stepped around us, and went on his way without spraying.)

Sika is rescuing me as much as I’m rescuing her, a true-ism any number of animal people have declared. She gets me out everyday, walking two, four, sometimes six miles. She makes me laugh, makes me smile. We go to sleep listening to the sound of each other’s breathing.

And that’s more than enough.


7 Comments on “A Gentle Hand

  1. Aww Melissa, I’m so glad you have Sika. She seems to be just what you need. She’s beautiful and reminds me so much of Jasmine, Justin and Heathersfirst dog. She was the love of Sams life. You are a beautiful writer. I am in awe of your ability and your product. Bev


  2. Melissa, what a beautiful post! Almost brought me to tears, making me think of our own little pup, as well as the one we lost a few years ago. And what a sweet looking little dog, Sika is! It’s truly amazing, the bond between people and dogs.

    On another subject, congratulations on your 20,000 words! A new novel, I hope? Can’t wait to read it! I’m deep into the plotting/planning stage of a new adventure fantasy myself.


    • Ah, Jim! Thank you for your kind words and always being such a wonderful cheerleader. Yes, dogs are astonishing. Sika had her first “Good Manners” class last night and did very well. (We’d already begun training her at home.) I so enjoy her, and you’re right — she’s very sweet. As for the writing, no, it’s not a new novel, just something I germinated an idea for just after Christmas, not like anything I’ve ever done. Wanted to see if I could do it.


  3. Hi Melissa, nice to hear from you. Sika is amazingly beautiful. So wonderful that you found each other.


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