The Pen or the Pup: What’s Harder?

27629507_10213253886639681_2297835058664040093_oBoth fostering a dog and writing a book are complicated tasks, but which is hardest?

When writing a book, you are up all hours of the night. The characters swim like minnows through your mind, making you crazy. Plot points that don’t pan out wake you up in a panic.  Watching television at midnight? Not for enjoyment you tell yourself, but to examine character body language and dialogue. Even wine doesn’t help.

You are up all hours of the night with a foster dog. The first few days the poor pup is settling in and that means he’s pacing the floors or whining in a crate. Once your furry friend has adjusted, you are up all night because he’s taken over the bed. The pupster allows you under the duvet only if you promise to provide cuddles. Dog treats help.

When writing a book, you’re extremely tired.  With every line penned, there’s at least three rounds of early revision. After a page, even though you know not to stop, you can’t help but go back and examine each word, reread each sentence. When you scrutinize it a day later, you’re astonished at the banality of the draft and how many mistakes you made. Time for a rewrite and a huge mug of coffee.

And you are extremely tired when fostering a dog. With a new foster dog, the focus is routine. That means walks, long walks at the same time every day. First in the morning before work, then in the afternoon, and once again in the evening. Five inches of snow can’t stop you. The dog doesn’t know how to walk straight? No problem, you were planning on booking that appointment with the chiropractor anyway.

When writing a book, you have no nice clothes. You roll out of bed in your pajamas and start writing. As the day speeds by, you change into yoga pants and a sweatshirt to walk the dog and later grab a slice a pizza from the fridge only to watch it end up in your lap when the dog begs for a crust. Otherwise it’s easy to ignore the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the hamper. It’s not like you have any upcoming book signing events.

You avoid wearing nice clothes when you have a foster dog. Not knowing the new pup, it’s always hard to tell if she’s a chewer, drooler, or a hugger, leaving dirty paw prints on every clean item of clothing after digging up the back yard.  As feathers fly around the house, you realize you didn’t need that down coat anymore, it’s almost spring. You do need to look somewhat presentable for work, so you travel with a Pet Plus Extreme lint roller. Of course, you’re always on the last sheet with no refills in sight.

In both cases, writers and fosters are constantly out of breath. Whether running after a pup who has stolen a single Ugg to chew on or separating dogs in the middle of a heated tug of war, with a new canine friend, fosters are constantly on the run.  And while most people think writing is a stationary activity, many author’s say that their best ideas come when they exercise so there is a lot of jogging and hiking the trails, hoping for inspiration.

Whether tired, covered with dog hair, or suffering from wrist strain thanks to long hours at the computer, I highly recommend both activities.  The few drawbacks are minimal and easily overcome with abundant pizza, coffee, and alcohol.


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