According to Writingandwellness.com: "In a 2017 study of about 250 people at risk for depression, scientists found that those who didn’t own a dog were three times more at risk for depression than those who did own dogs."
"A later study also found that dog ownership reduced loneliness and improved mental well-being."
Now, on to today's post...
Let’s assume that if you are reading this article, you know someone who’s a writer. If you do, you know the pet is as necessary to the process as coffee, wine, or the computer. Maybe even more so. Why is that?
By nature, writers are solitary creatures who avoid their own kind during a large part of the writing process. Elbows deep in a world the author is creating, with people springing forth from the vast array of rooms in their mind, an author often simply doesn’t have time to devote to other humans. Not when they are busy attending to the wants and needs of the characters they are building from the outside in, or sole to soul. And let’s not forget, we are intent on putting these characters through enough turmoil so they can complete the character growth necessary to claim the prize by that last page. Be it love, world peace, catching the bad guy, finding the relic, winning the race; these things all require our protagonists to go through the wringer, and come out the other side. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for other real time life interruptions.
ENTER THE PET
Usually, multiples of them. While felines and canines may be the most popular, I do not mean to discount the others. They are all worth their weight in antimatter, which runs a cool $80 trillion dollars a gram. (Yes, I looked that up for this article and no, gold didn’t even make the top ten.) Talk to a pet owner and they will explain their furry friend is family. But the relationship is really so much deeper than that.
You see, the pet is the ultimate listener. They are always ready for your attention and for you to talk to them. For hours. They don’t get tired or bored. Cleo or Fido loves the sound of your voice. Even more, the pet loves that you are talking to them! This allows an author to take any problems or questions with the current work in progress, outside their head and utilize the problem-solving features that engage when the brain is required to put thoughts into vocalized sentences.
But wait, “pets don’t understand words. You could talk gibberish and they’d wag their tail just the same.” Well, yes, their tail would still wag, and they would still purr. But I have never met a pet owner that didn’t talk to their pet as if it understood every single word. Somehow, they know. They just know.
I should also add that our buddies don’t talk back. They give us their undivided attention. (Well, unless it is a feline, or a canine with a toy.) An author can ramble through their thoughts, shuffling them repeatedly until eureka, the solution is discovered and back to the keyboard they go. Of course, there are a good number of treats and pets to our loyal companion for having helped us.
The faithful companion fills several other roles for the wild-eyed recluse, hunched over the desk in their writing cave. One, they act as a medical barometer. Instinctively the pet realizes when its human needs food, hydration, to stretch their cramped legs, or even catch a glimpse of the fading last ray of sunshine. Willing to sacrifice itself, the animal will invade the personal space of its owner and by pretending to need these things itself. While caring for the animal, the human will do for itself as well, thus the pet has done its job yet again.
Perhaps the most important role is being able to read the heart and soul of its writer human. The furry writing companion keeps a close eye on what is happening with us. As we dive headlong into the angst and danger of the words flying onto the screen, it is our pet who realizes the exact moment we need rescuing. Often, we don’t even realize this ourselves. Not until a head settles against our leg, or the cat stretches across the keyboard, do we realize there are tears streaming down our face. But our pet does. They are so closely bound to us that every emotion goes through their delicate filtering system, to better enable them to offer comfort, joy, security, whatever it is we need.
Often you will find our furry friends showing up in our novels. They are too much an integral part of our lives to leave them behind.
Writing with a pet. . . I can’t imagine writing without one.
About the Author
Rebecca A. Corio
A former farm girl from the Midwest, Rebecca now runs a family restaurant in Hawaii and serves as founder/president of the Bryan Fujikawa Foundation, a non-profit that works with other community organizations to provide meals to underserved families in the community. She hosts a biweekly reader discussion and author chat called Wino Writer Wednesday on Instagram Live. A believer in “love at first sight” and “happily ever after,” Rebecca shares laughter, tears, and passion with readers through the stories she creates. She loves being the sunshine and light for those around her, and the advice she gives most often: When the Universe stops to sprinkle its pixie dust upon you, make sure your arms are open to receive it.
In her debut romance Storm of Passion (TouchPoint Press 11/23/21), Corio devises for readers a tempestuous story of island love and learning to trust in the middle of a storm. Heavily influenced by a connection with nature and drawing from her experience working in security, she creates a setting worthy of an escape, as well as realistic characters and relationship dynamics that everyone will love.
Connect with Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccaacorio, or learn more at her website: https://rebeccaacorio.com