I really hope that people who read my book will come away inspired to want to do good things for animals. I sort of imagine that people would read it and then want to go adopt a dog. And, might to want to even go open their own dog sanctuary,” said writer Arin Greenwood.
She’s talking about her third commercially published book entitled “Your Robot Dog Will Die.”
On April 20 at the Gulfport History Museum, she had a book launch and signing event, which partnered with Palm Harbor rescue organization Suncoast Animal League. A portion of the sales went to the rescue.
“The whole thing was really fun,” she said. “A lot of people came and they brought their dogs, which was wonderful.”
Why do a book launch in Gulfport?
The setting for Greenwood’s story is loosely based on the city.
Greenwood says she has always loved animals, especially dogs.
“I was the little kid who would see dogs and start screaming ‘dog, dog, dog!’ and run over to go pet them. I became vegetarian when I was six years old because I loved animals so much.”
She can’t imagine doing anything other than working in the animal world “writing stories and books to make a difference.”
Over the years, she has made her living writing travel and legal stories involving animals in addition to being the animal welfare editor at the Huffington Post. For the past few years, she has been a freelancer doing various writing projects with a focus on animals.
The research she does for the settings in each of her fictional books is based on places where she has lived.
For instance, beginning in early 2015, she and her husband were Gulfport residents for about a year-and-a-half.
“I had a whole wall that had just like notes taped to it,” she said. That’s how she kept track of details that she would later use in her fiction writing.
“Thank you, Gulfport for providing such a great inspiration for the setting,” she said.
In June 2016, she and her husband bought a house in St. Petersburg. And, Greenwood now has two more books in the works. One, for adults, is based in St. Petersburg. The other, for young adults, details a family that starts out in Florida but then moves to Rhode Island. She’s lived there too.
Her writing process involves having deadlines and stretches of time where she can really sit down and focus.
“I think if I just were able to write fiction all the time, I could probably produce a book a year. That’s not how life goes sometimes,” she said.
Her advice to people who want to start to write for others is to join a writing group or take a workshop.
“It’s so helpful to have deadlines and people who are expecting you to produce because it can be hard to make yourself sit down and write,” she said.
Also, she says, “have realistic expectations about what the writing process is like.”
The normal process is a mix ranging from “feeling incredibly inspired to feeling incredibly frustrated, like you can’t bear the thought of another day at the computer, then feeling really excited for the next thing that’s coming up.”
Her main tip for writers is “you just need to get yourself into a routine. Sit down at the computer every day at 8 a.m. and make yourself write until noon. Or, give yourself a word count to get 500 words a day out. It doesn’t need to be great. You just need to get into the habit of writing and that’s a big part of actually finishing a project like a book.”
There are two books she recommends to people who want to get started with writing but are feeling intimidated by the process.
First, “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott. “It helps to demystify the writing process,” said Greenwood.
Second, “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield.
“It’s a very helpful to book to read if you find yourself feeling stuck or if you start getting that little naggy feeling like ‘Who do you think you are to write a book?’ It basically says that everybody feels that way at some point and that what you have to do is just keep on pushing through,” she said.
Greenwood says she has reached her goal of being an animal writer.
“I consider myself part of the animal welfare world. I love that world and I would like to keep working in it for as long as I can.”