Writer’s Block Walks on Four Feet

I subscribe to Tim Waggoner’s newsletter. He’s a great writer, and there are always some grains of wisdom I glean by reading his missives. He tackled writer’s block in one of his recent issues. Great advice, he offered. If you’re a writer or a fan of good writing, subscribe to Tim’s newsletter. Here’s the link to do just that.

Like I said, great advice.

And at this point in time I can’t follow it.

My heart is a twelve-and-a-half-year-old pug named Wrinkles. He’s not doing so well right now. He’s been traveling that downward slope for several months, but lately it is even more pronounced. He stations himself under my desk, and I’m very frequently backing away from the keyboard to check on him and pet him, particularly when he’s caught in a wheezing fit.

In the evenings, when I’d normally work on crafts or outline chapters, I am instead holding him. I don’t want to let him go.

I give him bits of hamburger and cheese, and a little milk when the other dogs are outside. Age has privilege.

I see pictures of fifteen and sixteen-year-old pugs on Facebook. I know my Wrinkles won’t make it that far. Last night Bruce made a comment about him likely not making it to summer.

But I really want him to enjoy the coming summer with me. It’s a time when I take my laptop onto the back porch and open the door so he can go in and out of the yard as he pleases. There are three fans going on the porch, so he’s kept nice and cool. He loves it out there. It is his job to patrol along the fence line and to look toward the train tracks across the field. Ever since we moved here, he’s been diligent about barking furiously to keep the trains from coming onto our property. It was also his job to kill the bushes around the patio, hiking his leg and loosing his potent pee. He can’t do that job anymore, as his rear legs don’t cooperate.

Wrinkles appears in my first two Piper Blackwell mysteries. I’m writing the third now, and I’m going to make sure he appears in that, too. I’m just not writing as fast as I should because of all my pug breaks.

I take lots of pug breaks these days.

Wrinkles was given to me by Juliana Wence, a beautiful and amazing woman who at the time was in the Air Force and could not keep him any longer. In all my years on this planet, he’s been the greatest gift I’ve ever received. He’s been my constant companion for more than nine years.

Wrinkles has been struggling to walk, his back legs not working well. He falls down. I help him back up. And I carry him inside and outside on bad days so the steps don’t tax him. It’s age, I’ve been told.

Pugs have an average lifespan of twelve to fifteen years, and according to Pet MD they’re prone to elongated palates (Wrinks had some of his shaved to help his breathing a few years back) and other maladies (like last year’s cyst removal). Dogs, like people, are all dealt different cards to play. I’m hoping the aces turn up and I have my buddy through the summer. It was an August, those years ago, that he came to live with me.

I should point out that I was sneaky in my acquisition of the Lord of the Lawn Chair, as a friend once dubbed Wrinks. Bruce would take me to a nearby pet shop (one of those places that worked with the dreaded puppy mills), and I’d look at the pug puppies. Just look. Bruce thought he was being kind for me to see them. He said I couldn’t have one for keeps, as while he loved dogs, he wanted ones with proper snouts. “No smushy faced dogs in our house,” he once said.

I guess I wasn’t listening.

A dog groomer in Kenosha, Jean Rozinski, emailed me a picture of Wrinkles one afternoon, with a note saying the owner needed to re-home him. I jumped at it. I emailed Juliana right away, told her about me, my house, my fenced-in backyard, my love of pugs. I’d had pugs when I was a kid … it’s when I learned to treasure them. I also told her about my other dogs.

She picked me for Wrinkles.

I got a pug and Juliana as a friend.

She’s come to see him a few times. I’ll poke around through my computer and see if I can find a picture of them. … Okay, back from my search. I found one of me, Juliana, and Wrinks.

And so rather than pen a blog about what I’m working on, today I wrote one about my writing distraction … my heart, who is softly snoring across my feet under the desk.

He’s a fine distraction.

I’ll still make my deadline on Piper #3. I don’t miss deadlines. That book is titled The Dead of Summer.

I really hope Wrinkles shares the coming summer with me.

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