Re-homing a stray- Author?
Two years ago this month our last beloved collie died. Having written a poetic tribute to her ( here) we have gradually become used to the sense of absence. Life is flatter, the day without a wag of celebration or the need for disciplined walks. A dog’s life it is no longer, but a dog’s life it now feels.
Recently the urge to try again has been festering. But here’s the thing. We are too old and too arthritic to contemplate a puppy. Yet it seems an adopted dog is a half formed affair, a love born of need ( both ours and any-old-dog’s) one with a time limit ( our decrepitude and a dog’s need to age in synchrony) and a substitute for the choice of that glossy coat, that starred bib, those soulful eyes and then the bond that comes from mutual training, mutual acquaintance and the growth of mutual tolerance. The thread of an infant dog is twine that snakes through every routine, we grew up together, didn’t we? We both know where all the balls are buried.
Shall I re-home a half breed dog, a mutt mongrel of no known pedigree, and when people ask simply say ‘I felt sorry for this abandoned cur and we hang out together. Don’t ask me why.’ ‘Nobody else wanted it; I suppose that explains it.’
It occurs to me that this is a parallel for my own condition. Anybody willing to re-home this similar runt of an author? Rejected by so many trial homes? The latest promised well; a home that advertised the persuasive search for ‘your signature story’ and had me biting out fleas from my matted coat? I do have quite a flourish signature story ( nearly as many curlicues as the Virgin Queen) so, with a will, I re-launched a shiny new website ( this PHI one) that has garnered even fewer pats than the previous version. Then I visited the home that promised my ‘first ten thousand readers’ and asked me to ‘funnel a free book’ to hook in a devoted following who will sniff out my continuing hot off the press, book-a-year series with as-clear-a-genre markings as a Dalmatian. Or ‘get together with other similar authors and box a set for a mega splash‘ Yeah? Who might they be? This beach I occupy is deserted.’Oh you’re the intellectual indie‘ they said when I tried.’ Not much of a fit.’ Nobody realises that my signature story is as contra-intellectual as ‘Hello Magazine’? Not so much flesh, granted.
None of my potential ‘funnels’ are any kind of guide to my smelly genre which changes as the seasons do. ‘Fergetit, Novellas are read only by the French, not cool. Short stories? Nah. Now whaddya got besides?’ The home that blasted an advertisement ( for a whopping fee) and gave me the first respondent ‘Not very modest are you?’ I yelped a protest ( It wasn’t me wot wrote it sir) and slunk away.
I had been whimpering quietly, and to myself for years and thought ‘ah well, these professionals should know what they’re about. Time to bite back modesty and accept help! Let’s PAY to be re-branded!’ I was branded a boaster with fire tongs. Szzzz. Ever smelled burnt hair?
That was after I had become house-trained in the independent author kennel. I tried not to foul my concrete run; I had given before asking (some thirty odd reviews of demanding books) and four for a single small, no, not small-minute, publisher. Not a peep of ‘how can I help you, need a run? Stretch your legs? I hung out the Twitter taping and Facebook bunting, and made metaphorical cup cakes for the indie street gang. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed doing it, because Oh, I was young and easy under the apple boughs, about the lilting hope; licked any hand extended, but now I curl up with a chin on my paws, time holds me green-and-dying-and-all-that. Even my favourites are scrambled. Purity never pays.
Once in awhile I get thrown a snack ‘I bought your book, really enjoying it but wonder whether you might…?’Or the publisher who suggested he’d like to republish part, but ‘Here’s the deal. You pay set up fees, you buy review copies ( at a mere 55%), you repurchase unsold books and I authorize any publicity and hold the copyright for five years of the one you have already managed to publish’ The one already published that ‘magnum opus’ doorstop I bravely put about when I was a young and agile trainee in agility classes , wiggling through tunnels of editing and clearing those hurdles of high-flying endorsements. You just try endorsements without an intellectual pedigree! To be allowed to think you have to have letters, peers, published papers, and tenure.
Even those endorsements were a humiliation ‘Send me the script in hard copy by next week when I have a holiday window’ Fifty pounds and four months later ‘I have not had time unfortunately to read your script, but leave it with me, I’ll see what I can do’. That was three years ago. The worst but far from the only. So under this plastic tunnel I lurk, and the rain spatters down.
I don’t even look up anymore. I watch the adoptive readers walk by for the breeds they recognize, the Spaniel romances, the Red Setter spotted crime, the Labrador litters that wrap ‘cosy mysteries’ in loo roll. They get film rights when they grow up to join the opening credits of Downton Abbey? What IS a cosy mystery? A mongrel doesn’t stand a chance. Especially a grey muzzled one.
I still wag a tail for a kind word. I have a few and very valued occasional visitors, and some stay to talk awhile, but a home is fast fading.The tramp of the 20K a week soft porn and pecs drowns out the whistle I was hoping to hear.
Any suggestions? Anyone with an idea? I’d accept a modest outside kennel and write to order? Sod expecting to sell. Is anyone like this dishy owner who turned up for my companion when we were both dreaming of adoption? His mentor was envisaged, and conjured up with horn rims and a lovely smile. Led him away for a life of adoration.
Now that I have watched my kennel companion’s happy valley I realise I am not even a hound dog. I am a pangolin without a neck to take a leash, a iguana with swivel eyes and bristles; I am in the wrong department.
By Karsten Seiferlin from Neuenegg, Schweiz – Beast, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32903243