I think I’ve said a time or two that Cassie is not a big fan of the rain. When she has to go outside she gives me a look as though all that wet stuff falling from the sky is my fault and that I plan the whole deluge around the times she is going to be outside. Her ears go back flat on her neck and she tucks her tail so far between her legs that it disappears and generations of German Shepherd breeding seem to disappear as she slowly creeps outside.

Today on my way out to teach a poetry session it was pouring. Big buckets of water coming down. I turned down the street toward the school and there was a person walking briskly down the sidewalk of one block. They had their rain slicker on and bright red boots and they carried a matching red umbrella. On the next block was another person walking in the rain, the hood of their rain coat pulled tightly around their head. Both people were out walking their dogs in the pouring rain. Both dogs were labs. And they were reacting to the rain in a completely different fashion than Cassie. While their humans walked down the sidewalk those labs looked as happy as could be. Their tails were wagging and their ears were up and they were prancing a happy dance.

On the way home from class it was still raining. Up ahead of me on the road was a car with the passenger window rolled down. A big Golden Retriever had its head stuck out the window. I watched his mouth open and shut, open and shut, and I thought he was barking but when I got closer and rolled the window down a bit he wasn’t making a sound. He was opening his mouth because he was trying to catch the rain as it was coming down. And as I passed him, I swear that dog was smiling.

Sometimes I’ve tried to force myself to write a certain type of story because I think that’s what the market is looking for or what a particular editor is looking for or even, horrors, because I think it would be easy and a quick sale. It’s like I wanted I wanted to be a Lab or Golden Retriever when I knew all along I was a German Shepherd. I believe the best stories are the ones that come from some place deep inside of us. For me it’s usually about trying to make sense out of something in my life. Trying to tell a story that doesn’t come from my own heart doesn’t work for me. (That’s not to say I haven’t tried. I have. They just haven’t been the best of stories.)

I can’t make Cassie love the rain the way those labs and that Golden Retriever do. And that’s okay.

There are things that Cassie can do that I bet none of those dogs can do. And that’s even better.

Don’t try to force your story into what someone else is writing or selling. Your stories are YOUR stories. You’re the only who can tell them.