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TanglesJuly 31, 2011

Clementine, our little beagle/pit bull mix, is a runner. I've never met a more loving dog in my life, and she only wants two things: to sit in your lap and shmuddle you to death, and to run. (Also, she wants to catch rats at the beach, but let's not talk about that.)

While I was writing the other day, I'd left her in the backyard. She likes to lie in the sun for hours and will stay happily out there by herself. I checked on her a couple of times, and she smiled and thumped her tail but had no interest in coming inside. The next time I looked out at her, I didn't see her. She wasn't in the backyard, and she wasn't in the house.

She'd pushed her way out of the gate and the front gate was ajar, so she'd gotten out.

I was terrified, instantly. In the past, we'd at least seen her go, and we'd been able to give intelligent chase. This time, I just had to guess where she might have gone. I ran around the neighborhood, calling her name over and over again, thinking "I've lost Lala's dog. Oh, shit, I've lost Lala's dog."

It has a happy ending -- I saw her racing up another (busy) street and called her, whereupon she pretended not to know me until I got that I'M SO DEAD SERIOUS tone in my voice and she dropped to the ground like she'd been shot. I carried her home, scolding her the whole way.

At home, she started acting funny. She seemed too nervous to sit next to me on the porch while I read, and instead, she went under the jasmine on the porch.


She walked around and around, spinning and pushing her way farther in each time. I watched, curious, as she began to stand funny.


No way. She couldn't be stuck. Could she be? I watched some more and then called her. She pretended not to hear me. She was fine, her body language told me. She was totally fine. She didn't need ANY help.

I got closer.


Yep. She'd made a noose of the jasmine vines. They weren't tight, but they were holding fast. She'd never have gotten out of it if I hadn't been there to break all the strands, and she could have done herself serious damage if she'd tried to.

What struck me was her attitude. When I caught her running on the road, she looked at me with a face that told me she didn't need me, not one little bit. I think I'm like that when I'm writing a first draft. I run fast, and I run hard. I dodge cars and stray bullets and if I hit the writing freeway, I run faster. If I see someone I know, I look away and pretend I haven't seen a thing. But then I usually end up exhausted and confused, and I need someone to help me home, to the finish.

And the whole jasmine bush ordeal reminded me of what it feels like to be working on a big novel revision. That's where I am now -- the first pass through. I'm tangling myself up in the plot threads, spinning and burrowing, and sometimes I look out and I'm surprised to find I can't move. I completely wind myself up so that I'm trapped.

The natural extension of the metaphor would say that I need people to help me out, to untangle me. And that's true, in a way. No one can help me at this point in a book. Talking doesn't work, and another person reading my work at this fragile state might be catastrophic.

But just sitting around with friends, talking about writing? That helps. Talking about the world, laughing together. That's the way out, I think. Taking time away from the draft. Being together with REAL people.


And hanging out with dogs. That helps, too.

Oh, and also with cats, especially crankypants named Digit:

Photo on 2011-07-31 at 14.56
Messy Sunday hair (it's all natural on top now -- that's the silver grown out)!

Purrs to you and yours.


A couple of times I've found one or the other of my cats walking around with their head stuck in those sturdy, corded handles of paper dept store bags. It's a little scary.

That picture of you and Clementine is just about the prettiest one I've seen. I would use that as your next author photo!

Love the picture with Clementine!

This blog Rachael is exactly why you were meant to be an author!! Who else could make chasing a dog as interesting as you......lol And what a great picture....both in fact, the one with Digit is quite precious also!! Love ya!

Yes, the photo with Clementine is beautiful, also good to see Digit. I'm really liking your silver crown.

Love your story. Goodluck getting untangled.

Seeing Clementine with her jasmine noose reminded me so much of my mom's first bull terrier Max. At Christmas time he loved to walk under the decorated tree and stick his head thru the garland, then walk until he felt the tug and wait for one of us to notice that if he moved one more step he'd pull the tree over. It was almost a zen experience for him. Haven't thought about that in a while.

Hope you get untangled soon!

Thank goodness you found Clementine before she got herself hurt... both times! As for your own personal writing rescue, based on past results, you'll be just fine.

I loved the picture with Clementine, it looked so . . . soulful.

Take time away from the writing, it'll still be there in the morning. (And some days it will be a little TOO there in the morning.)

oh Clemmy.

Aw, that photo of you and Clementine is one of the best ever. And can I just say that I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!! Love.It.

So glad you were there to help Clementine even if she didn't think she needed help. I love that pic of her sitting in the Jasmine. She has that stoic, martyr look hounds get when they DO need help and want more schmudles to boot.

My beagle/corgi (?) mix loves to schmudle me to death too. Almost literally. When I'm lying in bed reading, he will get up on my chest and mash his cheek and neck against my face almost smothering me. I finally figured out he wanted kisses where I often snorgle him (around the ear). He is a kick.

Love your natural highlights! I grew out my hair a couple of years back - I am 40 and have a similar amount of silver in my previously dark hair - and I love how healthy and shiny it is. I get about 50-50 very appreciative comments and weird looks, but I love it. It feels really good when the last of the dyed bit is cut off. I agree with Juliette about the photo! Bon courage with the revision - I am just beginning to learn to write, which I have wanted to do forever, and it is very interesting to learn from those who are already in the thick of it.

The picture of you with Clementine is beautiful. And I love that her tongue is in mid-lick - she can easily touch her nose with it!

Love the photo of you with Clemetine. I'm so happy that you found her before disaster struck...out on the streets. And then once again, when you freed her from her noose. What a day she (and you) had!

What a silly, goofy dogums! Glad she is ok. Love the cuddling picture. Have a good day, Rachael!

The picture shows you two clearly made up! (And I'm very glad for two stories with very happy endings - when our Ruby gets out, rather than respond to the I'M DEAD SERIOUS voice, she basically flips me the dew claw as she peels out.

Glad that poor Clemmie is ok and did not get hurt. Silly puppy! Love the picture with you and Clemmie! Definitely love your hair - funky and fun! Go for it! My hair stylist won't touch my colour - it is silver in some parts and brown in others but in a funky, fun way. Often get comments about the job "they" did on the silver bits!

My husband had a beagle that liked to run, too. The only way to catch her was to go outside and open a piece of sliced American cheese. She'd hear that wrapper rip open and come in a dead run to get it.

Which was good to know, considering how often she escaped.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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