I stumbled across a couple of fine books over the last 72 hours. By a writer I'd never heard of. And really, isn't that how it should be?
The author is Susan Wilson. The books, One Good Dog, which I read first. The second, The Dog Who Danced.
No surprise there are dogs involved. I love dog stories. I've been reading them since I could read, and I've forgotten almost all of the authors of those childhood read stories.
But I'm not an idiot. I love well-written dog stories. It's rare enough to find them. It's even more rare to find good dog stories with a good people story attached.
As an adult, I certainly more fully appreciate good people stories, as much as, as a writer, I appreciate well-written stories.
Here's the thing, though. A good dog story, coupled with a good people story is not easily come by. Susan Wilson accomplishes both. And just in case you think this is going to be a review of those stories, think again.
Susan Wilson introduces human characters who are hugely fallible. I despised many of them. The dogs, of course, were goodness. Because dogs are. But I especially enjoyed how Wilson brought her human characters around to redemption, where, as a reader, I didn't so much as forgive them their failings, but allowed that shit happens, and you were one way but you can change, and you did, so good.
This is how I view people. Don't judge me.
I'm not a fan of happily-ever-after stories. Not because I don't believe in them, but because I do, with fervour, and because I'm an optimist at heart, and I wish only the best, and hope for the same. But life isn't like that, and shit happens, and you live with it and deal.
I'm a writer.
As a writer, I write what occurs to me. I write, not necessarily from personal experience, but from possible personal experience. In other words, I put myself where I have never been, but could possibly be, under different circumstances. The old "what if?" This is what a good writer does. Or so I understand ( I don't really know. I just write. It's a thing).
I will not sugar-coat anything. I will not give you characters who lack depth, or meaning, or belief. I will not give you situations of that kind either. I will give you what I know to be true. I will give you a story that is believable and has depth, and characters who also have the same. If you initially come to despise the characters I introduce you to, know that it's entirely likely that I have, as well. I will sugar-coat nothing. It's been one of the most difficult things to come to terms with, this complete refusal to paint happy pictures without struggle, without pain, without ensuring that my characters have suffered, and may suffer. It's what I adhere to, because it is life.
Life right now is pretty fine. I love my life currently. Well, frankly, I love life, period. But life changes on a dime, and I'm not in the market for white-washing life's experiences. Life speaks for itself.
I believe I'd like to write those stories, the stories about how life...is life.
But I'm not sure I can inject puppies as smoothly and surely as Susan Wilson has. Yet, even if I can't, I'm sure I can write as good a story.