Monday, May 20, 2013

On the Writing Road: The Very Beginning

I started my first novel while bedridden with something the doctors couldn’t figure out. I’d ended up in the ER with an enlarged liver and spleen and mononucleosis and was told I had to go on total bed rest. I never dreamed I would never be well again. I had to quit my job and thought I’d go insane until one day when I picked up pen and paper and started to write. I was hooked.

I had no idea what I was doing. I began in first person (I’m not sure why). I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t write for very long periods, and I couldn’t take any classes. Although I was a programmer/analyst, I didn’t own a home computer. (They weren’t common back then.)  I doubt I could have sat up in a chair anyway.

But writing saved my life…seriously. Well that and a dog.

I hadn’t been married all that long. My husband was at work all day and involved with projects at night. The doctors told me I’d never have children so that left…a dog…a companion…someone to be with me each and every long boring sick day.

I asked my husband if we could adopt a dog, and the answer was emphatically no, which was strange coming from a farm boy. I myself had grown up on a farm, and we’d always had dogs. He never explained his reasoning and the answer continued to be no.

I continued to write and struggled with plot, characterizations, sentence structure and, really, with every word. Some of the struggle was because of cognitive issues due to my illness but most of it was just plain not knowing what I was doing. My biggest challenge, however, was loneliness.

One day I made up my mind. I opened the newspaper and searched the pet column. There was an ad for a litter of Wire Fox terriers and I quickly called the number. The mother had been dropped off at an animal shelter and a foster family had taken her in to help with the pregnancy. The mother, Ladybug, and all the puppies would be returning to the shelter once the pups were weaned.

I couldn’t help myself, I made all the arrangements through the shelter and adopted Jiffy-the runt of the litter. And yes, my husband was pretty ticked when he came home from work and found a puppy, a crate, a bed, some toys and a bag of dog food in the kitchen. My words were, “You’re not my father.”  It didn’t take my husband long to fall in love with the little guy too.

Jiffy became my constant companion. He stayed at my side relentlessly. If I was up in the night, he was there. If I was in bed during the day, he was there. If I made it outside into a lawn chair, he was there. I’ve never had a more loyal friend.

Jiffy and writing kept me alive through that very difficult period of my life. I guess that’s why dogs are in my books and on the covers. That’s why I donate proceeds to help abused and abandoned dogs.

Jiffy died September 16, 1999 at the age of nine due to a tumor, blindness, diabetes, and Cushing’s disease. I think of him often and use many of his antics in my books. I’ve had other marvelous dog children since, but there will never be another Jiffy. He will always hold a special place in my heart.

NEXT BLOG:  One the Writing Road…Writing Teachers

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

First Image credit: rusty426 / 123RF Stock Photo

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love this story, Cindy, I'm glad I read it. I have had many Jiffys of my own over the years, and their stories have made it into mine. Is your publisher a good one? Would you recommend them? I got a rejection letter from Cedar Fort today and am trying to see where to go next.


I love hearing from you! Thanks for commenting.