Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Howling at the moon

I have a dog who howls at sirens. It's very sweet and hearkens from somewhere long ago in his ancestry. I asked the vet about it; I was worried it meant the noise hurt his ears, and while we live in Mayberry, our house is on one of the main streets and we have our share of fire trucks roaring past. Our vet assured me it wasn't caused by pain, but rather, when Ernie (our dog) hears sirens, he thinks it's another dog somewhere looking for his pack. So Ernie howls to try to call him home. It's fun to watch. He'll usually be sprawled on his back in a deep sleep (I mean, he spends at least 20 hours a day snoozing) but when a siren sounds, he jumps up. (We joke that he resembles George Bush at a press conference at that moment of startling.) And then, it's as if he goes into a trance of sorts--he tips his head up (to open his throat, I guess) and howls. It's mournful, it's eerie, it's a sound that comes from his toes and from thousands of years ago. And then, he looks around as if to see if we noticed. And I wonder if he ever feels sad that the dog he was calling home never arrives. But he'll do it again, every time. He can't help it.

Sometimes, I feel like Ernie, howling away, wondering if anyone hears. As a writer, much of what I do is very solitary. I write, never sure anyone else will ever read my words, much less come home to them. I send blog posts out into the ether and am more tickled than I probably should be when someone leaves a comment. It means we've connected in some way. But, like my dog and his howling, writing is in my blood, in my bones. I don't have a choice to not write, to not howl out and hope I'm heard. In reading a variety of blogs, I don't think I'm alone in this wondering. Books are released to much fanfare (or not). We earn out our advances (or not). We garner scads of reviews (or not). But what it's really about, at least for me, is to wake up and check my e-mail, like I did this morning, and open a letter from a reader who just finished my book. And who said it made her love reading again. And in tears, I write her back. I howled, she heard me. As writers, that's a power we all have. Sometimes I think that's all we can do. Let out a howl. See who answers.


kristen said...

Judy, well said. I feel you've captured it perfectly.

And I'm so glad your book is finding a home in the hearts of its readers. It's so deserved.

Therese said...

What Kristen said.

What a delight that fan mail must be--and well deserved, I'm sure. (Your novel is sitting right here on the table, patiently waiting until I have time to read for pleasure again...)

Oh, I meant to tell you--Kim Hovey saw our linked posts and thought we were very cool to do that.

Well, we are very cool, aren't we? :)

Lisa said...

The image of your dog howling out to his lost companion made me tear up Judy! Yes, that resonates very deeply. When I read a book I've connected with I get the same sensation -- that somewhere a voice has called out to me. The joy of hearing from your readers who have been moved to connect with you must be indescribable. I also get an enormous rush whenever someone comments on my blog and I feel like they "get" me. For now, I'll head back into the pyramid and continue to carve away at the hieroglyphics I hope will one day be discovered ;)

Therese said...

Ooh, I got my first fan mail today!!!

--From a UK reader, who managed to buy the book on Saturday. It made me cry, too!

Just had to run back over here and tell you. :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey, everybody, thanks for barking back!

Kristen, I love that you (and others) get what I'm talking about. It makes the world seem less colder, doesn't it?

Therese, I so understand that desire, and lack of time, for pleasure reading. Here's to both of us finding some time for that. Hope the writing is going well, and it's cool that Kim saw our links (yeah, we're cool!), and HOORAY on your first fan letter. One down, who knows how many more to come. Congrats again on YOUR big howl!

Lisa, you'd love my dog, by the way. And isn't it great how the internet has provided a way for us all to connect and support one another in our writing? Keep carving away . . .

reality said...

Great analogy and the perfect reason to write.

mcewen said...

Now you've forced me to comment and not lurk even though my brain is fused with jetlag.
Just keep putting it out there dearie.
Best wishes

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Reality, thanks for stopping by . . . and for "getting it"

Mcewen, sorry about the jet lag and thanks for the warm wishes!

Larramie said...

Aw, Ernie. Hope he doesn't know you get more than a howl, you get fan mail!!!

Queen Goob said...

I know - I'm a tad late in leaving a comment but I read a response you left for Wendi Aarons and had to come and look around. As a fellow dog-lover - I especially loved this post. As a fellow mother to teenaged spawn.....you bet I'll be coming back! (Most every blog I read about motherhood is that of a mom to little tikes; they just don't get it, do they? LOL)

Give Ernie a kiss and have a great day!

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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