In Gratitude

photo-1More often than not, here’s how it worked.

I would write a single sentence. Upon completing that sentence I would read it. Then stare at it. Then, I would delete it. I would then rewrite the sentence. After rewriting it I would read it again. After several more minutes of staring at the sentence I would begin writing a second sentence. I would then read the second sentence – and delete the second sentence. And the first sentence. Then, I would stare at the space where the two sentences briefly resided for several minutes, before attempting to write the first sentence again.

That’s pretty much how it went. I have not altered that description in any way to make it funnier for your amusement. In fact, I find it both depressing and embarrassing. Given that “process,” it is no small miracle that I somehow managed to string enough sentences together to yield an actual book. Especially, when, after every word and between every paragraph, this is what went through my mind:

Who cares?

Seriously. Who is going to care about my life? My doubts. My failings and flaws. My present or my past. Who the hell am I? I have no fame or fortune, no platform from which to pontificate about this cause or that. I simply could not conceive of someone connecting with anything I had to say. Sure, there were the dogs. And, lord knows people love dogs. But, would people understand—would they “get”—that Hounded wasn’t really a dog book? Would they be able to see passed the pee and the poop, the barking and the antics? Would they see me?

Turns out, they did.

I have received so many emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed reading Hounded. How they laughed at the silly stories of my dogs and recognized all-too-well the joy and frustrations that come from living with multiple Dachshunds. I’m so happy to hear that. But, there have been other kinds of emails. They mention the dogs; then, they talk about themselves.

How, like me, they have faced hard moments: the early deaths of parents, spouses or siblings; struggles with relentless depression; doubts about self worth; feeling alone and adrift. Or, simply hoping to find some measure of happiness in a world where happiness seems to be the rarest of commodities.

These emails, the ones that usually begin with the word “Dachshund,” but end with the words “Thank you,” have meant so much to me. I tell that to the person when I respond to their email. I say, “Thank YOU!” Thank you for reminding me why I struggled to write those sentences. Thank you for making me feel that I made a real connection. We often forget that behind every email address and emoticon is a living, breathing, doubting, hurting, struggling person that is sometimes looking for nothing more than to just get through the day. I am that person. And, to the wonderful people who have taken the time to let me know what Hounded has meant to them, I say this: your kindness and generosity has meant even more to me.

That last sentence? Not a single rewrite.