I am a writer. I can say that with absolute assurance. Not because of the stuff I have out there, both published and self published, that just makes me an author… but because of the dog.
When I had both space and time to paint, I never really thought of myself as an artist. Not even during that wonderful time when my paintings were selling for what my day job was paying me for a month’s work and the commissions I was getting took me to venues that were little short of amazing to me. I can see the work of the real artists… and see quite clearly where my skills do not match my vision. The pictures in my mind are fabulous… my hands still have way too much to learn to translate them to canvas the way I would like. I was simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and was given the opportunity to work doing something I dreamed of doing.
Still, I do love painting… but I never thought of myself as an artist until the hyperactive, ball touting tigger-hound stopped bouncing for a little while when I picked up the brush. She would come into the back bedroom that served as a studio and sit quietly beneath the big easel, making no demands, not moving, just keeping me company. As soon as I put down the brushes, she would be back to her old self. It was as if she was taking me seriously; as if she recognised the change of mood and meditative absorption that painting induces and gave it some sort of value and approval… validation. I felt like an artist because the dog behaved as if what I was doing actually meant something. Enough that it was more important than throwing balls.
Until recently, I wrote at a makeshift, homemade desk with little space and less legroom. When I moved the thing fell to bits and had to be replaced. I now have a desk with both space and legroom… or I did.
For the first few weeks, Ani sat on the sofa while I worked, or brought me the usual balls and tug-toys to distract me. Now I have a furry footstool – cum- footwarmer. She has adopted the kneehole beneath the desk and curls up there while I work. Usually on my shoes or slippers, which believe is so that I can’t escape far without her knowing.
And I feel like a writer. For all the reasons she made me feel like an artist. Being an author is a privilege I never really dreamed of. Self publishing has made that dream accessible to everyone these days and the number of voices now being heard, that would never have been given the chance in the old days when turnover and sales figures dictated whether or not there would be an interested publisher, that is wonderful.
But to feel like a writer… as if the words and the work have value… that is a completely different matter. Curled on my overheated feet… Ani has managed what a dozen books have not.
I am a writer.
The dog says so.