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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shy Like Me

This is the Viktor I have on my hands at home. The Viktor of three a.m. wakeup calls and afternoon shenanigans: chewing on the new hosta, wet from ears to tail because he decided jumping through the hose while I was watering was a riot. Okay, it was kind of a riot - it was pretty freaking adorable. At home, little man is bouncy, barking, happy, playful, and all about flashing those needle teeth. He's not just a handful - he's fast getting too big for that - but an armful of wriggling Puppy Chow-breathed ferocious cuteness personified.

Imagine my surprise, then, when he met some visiting family for the first time, and he morphed into this bashful, frightened baby that wanted to crawl inside my shirt and hide. I know he's still only seven weeks old, and that his fright is to be expected at this stage, but I hadn't counted on that. It reinforced the necessity of getting him out and about, meeting lots of new people and dogs - once he's had his 10 week shots, of course. I took him with me to the feed store yesterday, where he didn't touch the ground and there were no dogs, only people. And then stopped to visit my mom at work and meet her friends. Here he is after we got back, after he'd crashed and burned from his little adventure.

It was the first of many such adventures we'll need to make in the next year, socializing, socializing, and socializing some more (that's so important with these strong breed dogs). But I admit that his reactions gave me a moment of pause; his behavior brought out a secret worry. I'm very shy by nature; what if my unconscious energy will rub off on him? What if merely existing in my presence will turn him into me? Riddick had a little trouble with strangers at times, and while that is a characteristic of the breed...what if it was also because of me? What if sensitive, intelligent dogs such as these become their owners over time? It definitely added fuel to my fire when it comes to the issue of human children - I shouldn't be allowed to have any. It left me with the resolution that Viktor and I will have to conquer that shyness together; or, rather, I'll have to conquer it in order to set a positive example for him. Socializing him won't be the problem; overcoming myself, that might be.

Why am I rambling about this? It circles back around to writing - doesn't everything?

I have a professional fa├žade that I bring out of its drawer, shake into shape, and slide on over my head sweater-style when I need to wear it. I'm not shy when it comes to knowledge-specific points of interest. Get me talking horses, and I'll never shut up. But I always have this reservation, this shy assumption that people don't care what I have to say. Hence the verbal diarrhea on the blog - I'm making up for things unsaid. That feeling gets the best of me at times; it launches a full-scale assault at my confidence, one that can't be thwarted by anyone saying, "Believe in yourself." I'm having one of those moments now. My third Russell novel isn't anywhere near ready to be seen by readers. Poor, patient readers. It needs so much more work. And in the back of my mind, I hear the angry chanting of the bloggers who trash-talk non-traditional publishing; I see imaginary sneers and scowls.

When it comes to puppy-rearing, I know just how to boost his confidence and encourage him to go bravely out into the world. When it comes to my own ambitions - where lies the line between unnecessary obsession and legitimate worry? When confidence in oneself is a constant problem, at what point does one tune out the anxious voices and say, "I'm satisfied with this"?

The fact that I'm even asking these questions if probably a major clue.

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