Sue Owens Wright is the author of The Beanie and Cruiser Dog Lover’s Mystery Series and What’s Your Dog’s IQ? She is a seven-time nominee and two-time winner of the Maxwell Award by the Dog Writers’ Association of America. Sue resides in California with her husband and two basset hounds.
Awards: Nominated seven times for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers’ Association of America. Won the Maxwell in 2003 and 2005 in the categories of Best Magazine Feature and Best Newspaper Column. Received special recognition in 2004 from the Humane Society of the United States. Also nominated for the American Legion Auxiliary “Heart of America” Award.
Author Web site: www.beanieandcruiser.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Sue: 150 Activities for Bored Dogs helps turn bored dogs into active dogs with a great mix of activities for the home-alone dog as well as activities that let you in on the fun. Includes chapters on Fun Fur One, Fun Fur Two, and Fun Fur the Whole Doggone Pack.
DOGMA FOR THE WRITER’S LIFE
How to Unleash Your Inner Author
Sue Owens Wright
Gustav Flaubert said, “A writer’s life is a dog’s life, but it’s the only life worth living.” If you write about dogs, as I do, this statement is especially true. If Flaubert had dogs of his own, he must have known that they have much to teach us about the writing life. There’s no breed better suited to be a writer’s role model than the indomitable basset hound, which it so happens is as French as Flaubert.
I’ve been owned by seven bassets, which is why one named Cruiser is featured in my Beanie and Cruiser Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Having observed basset behavior within drool-slinging range for many years, I have come to understand they are the perfect barketype for any writer’s life. To lead the pack in pursuit of success in the literary field, a writer must emulate many of the same traits that make a scent hound so good at tracking hares in the field.
Here are some tricks my dogs have taught me about unleashing my inner author. I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have.
Pick up the Scent—Every writer begins with the same question: What shall I write about? A basset ranges in the field, searching for the scent of game. Then suddenly he picks up a hot scent. Tally-ho! He begins to bay with the joy and excitement of having discovered the quarry he will pursue. The joy is no less great for a writer who has found the subject he loves to write about.
Stay on Track—A basset hound won’t ever quit until he has tracked the hare to its lair. Dogged determination is key to success in the field or on the page. If a writer is ultimately to see his work published, he must never give up.
Find Your Voice—Every dog has a different bark: the mailman bark; the neighbor’s cat on the fence bark; the squirrel in the tree bark. A baying basset hound has a distinctive, melodious voice. Writing, writing, and more writing will help the writer discover his unique voice.
Use your Ears (and all your senses)—Dogs have a keen sense of hearing. Writers have good ears, too, for listening or eavesdropping. By using their ears, eyes, and other senses, they perceive details around them that enrich their stories.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race—When I’m walking my stubborn hound on the leash, trying to rush him along, he puts on the brakes and looks up at me as if to say, “What’s the doggone hurry?” The same is true of writing. Take your time to edit and improve your writing before you submit it. Editors will thank you, and publish you.
Follow Where the Path Leads You—When a basset follows a scent, other scents may dilute and weaken the scent he was following. He may stray off on the wrong path, but then he catches the scent again and he’s back on the right trail. The writer may also stray off the path now and then and be distracted by any number of things, but focusing on your end goal gets you there faster.
Enjoy the Journey—A basset hound knows how to enjoy life. He eats, plays, chases squirrels, and naps. He naps a lot! He conserves his energy and regularly recharges his batteries. So should a writer. All work and no play produces dull, uninspired writing and results in burnout.
Hang with the Pack—Bassets work best in packs. So do writers. Writing is a solitary pursuit. Spend some time (but not all of it) with other writers. Attend writing workshops or join online writers’ groups. By sharing and learning, you’ll become a better writer.
Bark up the Right Tree—A scent hound doesn’t waste time following a trail that will not lead him to his quarry. A writer must not waste precious time sending out material incorrectly to the wrong markets.
Take the Bite out of Rejection—Dogs don’t take anything personally. If a dog gets rejected, he doesn’t give up. He doesn’t sulk or whine but tries again and again until he eventually gets his reward.
Be a Publicity Hound—A publicity hound is the breed that has the biggest mouth and the longest tale. Howl your successes, bury your failures, and hire a good publicist to help you promote your book. Speaking of publicity, a well-designed Web site is a must for promoting your work. Mine has been worth its weight in Milkbones.
Share the Rewards of the Hunt—At the end of a successful hunt, the hunter rewards his hounds. Generously share your reward with others. Teach. Mentor. Be gracious. It makes success all the sweeter. And don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done.
Feel free to ask Sue questions in the comments section. She’ll pop in during the day to answer them.
To learn more about Sue, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.