Lisa Q. Mathews

Farley and Me: A Writer and her Anti-Muse

Newsflash! There’s an extra-special bond between writers and their pets. But maybe you knew that already. Just click on practically any author’s Facebook page, and there’s a good-to-excellent chance you’ll see plenty of pics featuring their loyal keyboard companions.

Hemingway had his polydactal cats (you can visit more than 60 of their descendants roaming his Key West home). Emily Brontë tromped the moors with her formidable mastiff, Keeper. Sartre and Twain often wrote with cats in their arms.  And Agatha Christie was a confirmed dog lover.

agatha.christie.dog

I love the fantasy of a snoozing pet curled on my lap as I write the Great American Mystery. Maybe with a toasty fire going in the background, and a cup of cocoa—or, in warmer weather, gently whirring ceiling fans overhead and a giant glass of iced tea with lemonade. Even better, what if my pet wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill muse, but actually wrote those gripping tales as I slept?

snoopy.idea

Sadly, none of those things are ever going to happen. My dog Farley hasn’t shown much interest in penning books—only in eating them. And his co-pet, a devious black cat named Lucy, isn’t much help, either. In fact, the two of them work in tandem to make sure I have zero words on the page by the end of each writing session. They’re a great team.

Lucy not amusedfarley.moping

I always get the same question when people meet Farley. Did I name him after the dog in that cute movie with Jennifer Aniston? The naughty dog with the fur and heart of gold? Sorry, no. My dog is Marley with an “F.”  He was actually named after Chris Farley, the late comedian. The two have quite a few similarities, it turns out. They’re both on the larger side, blond, extremely talented, and always in motion.

We chose Farley from a litter of four adorable brothers. He seemed the most enthusiastic on the days  we visited and we had this crazy idea about letting a puppy choose us.

farley.bros.

We ignored that he was also the one circling the perimeter, over and over—kind of like me in the writing process. And he always had something in his mouth. That was cute when it was a mini Lamp Chop toy. Now it’s shoes and toilet paper off the roll or my feet when I’m trying to talk on the phone. And once it was an entire folder of handwritten notes for my manuscript in progress.

He’s been to nonstop obedience classes—I have the bank statement to prove it. In puppy class he literally chomped on his fancy completion ribbon as they took the group picture. In the more advanced classes he was a champ in the ring—and a crazy hellion the minute we got home. We tried agility for a while, until I won five months in PT. When I have a serious deadline, I’ll admit that I dump him off at doggy day care, and pay extra for the dogbone-shaped pool.

Farley.agility

Am I a terrible dog mom? I hope not. I know my fiendish Farley loves me—and I love him back, crazy as he may be. Maybe we’re both crazy. But sometimes I need a time out from furry muses. Anyone up for a pet play date? The kind where the mommies drink wine, except maybe we could get some actual writing done?

Readers, do you have a helpful muse, of the pet (or any other) variety? Let us know in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “Farley and Me: A Writer and her Anti-Muse

  1. My Gibbs (2 years old in October, also a Golden Retriever) was crazy the first year. Chewed a hunk out of the wall! But now he’s mellowed out and loves to lie under my desk as I write. BUT, I ship him to doggie camp 2 x a week…he needs it and I need it!

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    • Farley turns 2 in Dec. (He and my husband have the same bday.) Right now he’s lying beneath my chair. There may be hope!

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  2. I love my dogs so much I’ve immortalized them in my mysteries. In fact, I felt so badly that Wiley ended up in an unpublished novel that he inspired a subplot in my third Cajun Country Mystery. But whatever I do, I can’t make eye contact with Pogo when I’m writing. He’ll see this as either a) a chance to jump in my lap, or b) time for some ball throwing. Which can actually be a welcome break if I’m not on a writing roll. But super annoying when I am!

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  3. Farley is a beautiful dog, and what a precious puppy! Someone recommended dog agility classes for our Mini Aussie Shepherd, who is quite a handful at times. That’s fine with me as long as I could just watch…. (anyway, I think she could figure out the course on her own!) Either that, or we’ll just get a sheep and see what happens. We got her from a breeder who actually also bred miniature ponies — they were so cute!

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    • Thanks, Celia! Aussie Shepherds (mini and larger-sized) are awesome at agility!! Farley was awesome, too–just in the wrong direction. (Or was that me, sigh?) Recommend the sheep!

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  4. Mine was Liam (registered name Casey Jones). I’m naming my next protagonist after him. He was a noble, stoic and protective Irish Wolfhound who hiked with me in the Chugach mountains. Oddly enough, I never saw a bear when Liam was with me. When he came in from the backyard, he would stand behind me and wrap his spine around me so I could pat his head with my left hand, scratch his bottom with my right hand and get my seat warmed. He lived 6 years. I’ve had two hounds since and will probably switch to Goldens next now that I have a 12 year old boy living with me.

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    • Aw, Liam sounded awesome!! Farley would probably be best friends with the bears. I grew up with Goldens (my mom showed them in Obedience)and they really are great family dogs. Guess I didn’t get all my mom’s genes.

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