Monday, October 11, 2010

Memoir class, animals, and a good mystery

I taught my memoir writing class at TCU today. I use the word "taught" lightly, because my only function is to spur discussion, and some of the pieces people write do that without any input from me. I try to get the class to see the submissions not as an isolated piece of writing but as a partial statement of who the writer is today. It amazes me that some people, one I've known for years, have stories in their backgrounds I'd never have guessed. The different approaches to life and its ups and downs are fascinating, but with a few exceptions I don't find this group ready to come to grips with the hard things in their lives. Still, it was an interesting and lively hour. My theory is that memoir is the story of how you got to be where you are today. I drove one of the class members back to her office, and she said, "I'm really enjoying this. It makes you think." I guess I couldn't ask for more.
My animals, both in their dotage, are changing their habits. I read today about the importance of socialization of your animals--i.e., dogs left outside. Well, my Aussie is outside all day, because he, a rescued dog, can't be trusted in the house without supervision.. I used to think chasing squirrels kept him active and interested, but now that he's eleven, I've noticed him lying in the sun while squirrels parade on the grass. I bring him in after supper, take him to my office, and give him treats--but as soon as he eaten his treats, he wants to go drink water and go to his bed, next to my bed. No more lounging lovingly at my feet while I work at my desk And my eighteen-year-old cat has gone back to sleeping at the foot of my bed, which I really like. He doesn't spend as much time on my desk, and while I miss the companionship, he was often in the way of what I needed to do. But I think that he sleeps on the bed so he can watch for my first restless moment in the morning and yowl to be fed.
I didn't get much done today, and I blame it all on an author. A couple of weeks ago Hank Phillipi Ryan offered ten free copies of her new novel, Drive Time, to the first ten who responded. I was one of the lucky ones and got the book. It introduced me to a whole new series and a protagonist I really like. Hank is an investigative reporter for a Boston TV channel, and so is her protagonist, so she knows whereof she writes. She's created a character who's determined, smart, and oh-so-career minded but who is also very human. I'm only about a third of the way through, but I've not done much else today besides the class, some e-mail, and my bike workout. Thanks, Hank, for giving me another reason to put off getting back to my own novel! I swear when I finish this, the only fiction I'll read is my novel--I've been away from it so long that I'll have to read from the beginning to get myself back into the story.
Our Texas weather continues to be absolutely lovely, so I took Hank's novel and a glass of wine to the porch tonight and enjoyed both thoroughly.

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