In my mind I keep seeing this image: a tough, wiry dog hanging several feet off the ground by a rope that it holds clutched between its teeth. It carries its own body weight. It wiggles in circles, hanging on by the power of its jaw. What does it want? What is its goal? To win, to pull down the rope and the tree it hangs from with sheer insistence? I don’t know, but after the image the word “dogged,” pops into my mind, particularly the definition that means tenacious, persistent. For lately I have been thinking I am nothing if not dogged. And that to be dogged is both a virtue and a vice, depending on when and where. (The other meaning, is of course, stubborn)
I have been dogged in creating a career from the ground up, one that involves a piecemeal and patchwork process of seeking out sources and pitching dreams to the future, that requires a kind of juggling that, at times, feels like flaming swords rather than writing, teaching and editing. I always tell those who’ve asked advice that the only secret I know to any kind of success is to throw yourself at your goal, and once you are even remotely near it, to hang on and be a rabid creature of persistence.
But I am also dogged in pursuit of people, of ideas for novels. I’ve lived in a “new” town for four years now, but for some reason I feel as though I only just arrived. Maybe this is partly a waking up process that comes with my son suddenly not being a baby who needs me at every turn anymore. But it may just as well be that I have caught the scent of life lived with all of the other roles that come besides mother. A foreign, intoxicating scent of things done at night of literary or cultural merit. Things that inflate me with the same vigor as reading books with a flashlight in my bed did as a child.
And now that I have no college campus or workplace to facilitate an easy way to meet other people I’ve become a bloodhound of likeminded souls. And once I lock on, it’s very difficult to free me. Like that dog hanging from his rope I am determined to get to know some new people, and in the process I know that I must come off like a big, goofy mutt who knocks you over upon first meeting and then rudely sniffs your pants.
But better that than the one that stands growling behind a fence and never comes out, never brushes up against the things he wants.