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Erin Cleary

  • Erin Cleary

With the Optimism of a Dog

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

We recently adopted a second dog. Luna has fit into our family so seamlessly that it’s hard to remember a time she didn’t live with us. Fergus and Luna are getting along better than we expected. They follow each other around and compete for hugs and pets. They have been tearing up the backyard with their wild playtime. Our hearts are bursting with love for these two goofballs

Having a second dog has helped to amplify the dog-ness in the house. More than one helps make clear what traits are true of all dogs versus part of the personality of a single one. They are playful, funny, nosy, bossy, and so-very-lazy. But above everything else, they are hopeful. This is the best trait of a dog. Each morning, even though they’ve slept the whole night next to me, they both greet me as if they haven’t seen me in ages. They are pure, kinetic balls of fur, immediately wide awake and wagging from head to toe. They are filled with joy at the prospect of a brand-new day. Some of that is bound to rub off on a person, and I mean literally rub off with all the slobbery dog licks, whipping dog tails, and smacking dog paws. Every morning is a new beginning. The dogs, in their sweet innocence, see this too.

The optimism in these creatures is amazing. The dogs stand near me when I’m cooking in the kitchen, expecting that I will drop some tidbit. Even if it’s celery, or some other dogily unappetizing thing, they are still there with their penetrating stares, ears alert, tails wagging gently like hopeful question marks, maybe thinking that if I drop something it will magically transform into some luscious meat item as it falls from the cutting board to the floor. That is some kind of hope and optimism. Even in the face of the facts pointing in another direction, they still hope.

Trying to find an agent can require this kind of hope. Not a false, doggy-brained hope, but a continued hope that even though I got celery a few times (a rejection), next time the response will be a steak (an offer of representation). In the last few weeks, there’s been a bit of celery. But one rejection offered the words, “It’s a wonderful story idea, but…” and that’s sure something! That right there is the hunk of ground meat that escaped the pan and keeps me believing one day the whole frying pan will fall off the stove.

So, I stay optimistic. I write and edit every day and connect with other writers on social media or meet with critique groups, doing my best to keep learning about the craft and the business. I research agents and agencies and drool over published picture books. With the optimism of a dog, I will continue to believe that if I chase the squirrel, one day I will catch it. If I stick my nose under the fridge enough times, eventually I will reach that stray piece of kibble. If I keep sending out agent queries, one day I will be a published author! Until then, it's a great feeling to know I have the love and support of two very optimistic dogs.

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