BlackDog vomited for two days over the holidays. Yes, one of my dogs is called BlackDog. She use to have real name when I adopted her but it was the same name as my niece. My niece objected strenuously to sharing a name with a small, balding dog that smells of pee. I dunno why. Since my other dogs are mostly white with brown spots, she eventually became BlackDog.
Don’t pet the black dog, she bites. Don’t put the black dog on the carpet, she pees. So finally, her name became BlackDog as one word.
So this Thanksgiving, I ended up carrying BlackDog out to pee and then back into the house to throw-up on mother’s freshly cleaned carpet. Between my mother’s disappointment in the fact that I wouldn’t quit my job and move back in with her (only mentioned every twenty minutes) and the scene from the Exorcist that my dog was acting out, I was pissy and exhausted.
Writing should have been the furthest thing from my mind. But I felt the itch. You know the one. Where you’re busy, kids are screaming (my great-nephews), the dog is heaving, my mother whining, and this great idea pops in my head. I use to resist these moments because I thought I was too busy or I just smelled too bad. Dog bile doesn’t smell like freshly baked cookies, you know.
So, I rolled out a plastic table cloth in the guest bedroom, put BlackDog on it, called the ER vet, and left a message. Instead of deserting her and returning the bosom of my very loud, needy family, I lay down on the bed. My other two fur buddies curled up against my legs for emotional support or maybe they were just cold. I still felt loved. I pulled out my spiral notebook and the ink pen from my back pocket and started scribbling.
Every ten minutes, my mother requested (this involves beating on the door and demanding) that I join the rest of the family. I have no idea why. I smelled, I was mean, and I had already peeled and cooked forty pounds of potatoes. Yes, forty pounds and that was just the fried potatoes, not the mashed.
I made the rounds earlier and said hello to everyone including my sister’s new boyfriend who looks suspiciously like the travel gnome. I did my familial duty, not happily but I did it.
So between the door pounding, the dog gagging, and Artic chill of the room, I managed to write about a page of new writing. Was it a perfect piece of literature? Hell no. But did it have the spark that can be shaped into quality writing. Hell yes.
To be a writer, sometimes you have be a little selfish. Sometimes you have to be stubborn as a two year old without a nap. When that spark hits, write it down. Scribble it on a napkin. Write it in lipstick on a paper bag. Keep a notebook in your suitcase, your purse, your back pocket, in your glove box, and a pencil/pen.
Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and scribble it in there with the door locked. No one will make you get off the pot…well, unless you’re married. For some reason, spouses and kids seem to think they can hurry your potty time. My rule is that if my pants are off, I’m not opening the door. It’s a great rule. I highly recommend it.
So I left Thanksgiving early to drive two hours to take the dog to the vet. I have a recorder in the car. If I get an idea, I can hit the record button and dictate it. I can talk and drive. I’m gifted…lol. And that recorder has saved my butt more than once.
BlackDog recovered. The great-nephews had been stuffing her with turkey behind my back. She had a severe intestinal upset. Three shots later and she’s almost well. My mother is still mad that I didn’t quit my job and move in with her. Her one rug also smells of dog vomit. I’ll buy her a new one, promise.
But the holidays weren’t a complete loss, I wrote something wonderful. I took advantage of the inspiration, of that moment of creative enlightenment. I didn’t fight it and let it die. When you go back to do it later, the words are gone. So be a little selfish, if you get the itch, scratch it.
Just wash your hands first.
And never leave home without a notebook, a laptop, or a recorder. Inspiration is a gift but it’s a fragile one. You ignore it long enough and it disappears like smoke.