Cassie likes to nap in whatever room I am in. When I get up to go into the kitchen for a drink of water she move from her bed to the center of the library so she can still see me. If I stay in the kitchen too long she will move to her rug in the entry area, the closer to see me. What she doesn’t like is when I go in the bathroom and shut the door. If the door doesn’t latch, she pushes it open, again and again. If it is completely shut she will lay down as close as she can get, nose facing the door, so as not to miss me when I come back out. It’s like she’s afraid there’s an escape route in there that she can’t see and I’m going to leave the house, leave her, without saying goodbye.
I tell her trust me. I’ll be back.
She’ll often respond with one of her big dog grumbles as she sinks to the floor to wait.
I use the phrase trust me a lot in our training. At the park I ask her to jump on and over a variety of strange things. Sometimes she hesitates, pauses to glance at me, make sure I really want her to jump up on that spinning merry-go-round. I say, “Trust me” and then give the command and she always does what I ask.
I treasure that trust and do my very best not to abuse it.
When you’re writing a novel a lot of things can happen that you didn’t plan on. You hear writers say that something came out of nowhere but it works so they let it stay. And sometimes you have to try a bunch of things that don’t work just so you can figure out what might. With me it usually starts with a character who wants to go someplace or something that makes no sense to me. My job as a writer is to follow him wherever he goes and to trust that it will all make sense later. And even if it doesn’t make 100% sense later, chances are that it will probably lead me in just the right direction I need to go. The story will tell itself to you if you let it.
For the last 20 years, no matter what version of the novel I was working on, Flyboy has always had the same main goal. Always. Recently he stood up on the page and pointed me in a different direction. This, he said, this is what I want more than anything else. Really.
Moments like this scare me in my writing because I am so afraid of doing the wrong thing, of messing up the story, of missing the target and falling on my face. Is this really the direction I want the story to go? If this is such a great idea why didn’t I think of it 20 years ago? What if I spend all that time following him down this new path only to find out that it goes absolutely nowhere?
Regardless of all those thoughts, I know what I have to do. I have to explore all the possibilities. I have to follow Flyboy down a new path and see where it takes me.
It’s just a matter of trust.