The process of writing (and cats)
The advice often given to authors is to establish a writing routine, i.e. pick a time and place to write. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, since I’m now retired from my dreary day job, I have the time, I have the place, but I also have a distraction in the form of my… cat.
I remember reading a book, years ago, about a writer who allowed his cat to keep him company while he wrote. It would perch on the edge of his desk while he worked and he found the animal’s presence soothing and conducive to the process of creation. Hah! I’ve had four cats, not all at the same time, over several years and every one of them has turned out to be a major distraction in one form or another.
My first cat, called Copper, for reasons I won’t go into here, was a real cuddle bug. She was a fetching little tortoiseshell kitty. Half her face was coloured dark brown, with little patches of auburn and black hair and the other half was cream coloured; it made her look a little like a Harlequin clown. She loved to sit on my knee, or my keyboard, or even on my head, where she’d reside, with her tail hanging down the back so it looked as though I was wearing a rather bizarre Davy Crockett hat. When it got too much, I’d set her aside and try to continue with my current work in progress. But then she’d sit bolt upright, staring at me unblinkingly and when she’d got my attention, would slowly topple over to one side and lay there, paws held up, as if begging me to pick her up, which I inevitably did. Needless to say, once I’d persuaded her to lie down somewhere else, I’d completely lost the thread of what I’d been writing.
When she passed away, it took me a while to get another cat, as I was heartbroken; I even stopped writing, until I was encouraged to obtain another companion, rather aptly called Biro. Biro was a rather large white cat, with black patches. Her ears and the top of her head, and right around her deep-set eyes were black. It resembled a hood and made her look like either Batman or a feline executioner. She was completely different from Copper, in that she had a real attitude. Anytime I had to pick her up, I’d hold her at arm’s length with her head facing away from me. She didn’t like to be held and would turn her head around and stare at me with unnerving intensity. I half expected her to go for my throat and quite frankly, she scared me! Then one day I caught her in the spare bedroom, where she was cavorting around, with an artificial rose between her teeth, doing the cat equivalent of the Tango! I could never take her seriously after that.
My third cat was called Meg, in direct opposition to my brother’s suggestion of “Dracula” – don’t ask why – and was a little black and white tuxedo with the tiniest paws I’ve ever seen on a kitty. She was a gorgeous girl, with the disposition of a fiend! She’d hiss, spit and generally hare around whatever room I was in like a Tasmanian devil! She’d get under the bed, out of reach, and make such a racket, it sounded like she was tunnelling her way out. I didn’t dare look to see what she was up to… I didn’t want to know. She had a virulent dislike of my printer and when it was in action, and if I didn’t stop her, she’d rip the paper out of it with her claws and teeth, whilst it was printing my latest manuscript!
My current cat, depicted above, is called Lucy and is, as you can see, a brown tabby. She is a lovely girl, if somewhat eccentric. She’ll climb anything and everything, and I’m often distracted from my writing by the sight of her sitting on top of the tall bookcase, amongst my precious art deco figurines. If she’s not doing that, she lays siege to my doll’s house. One time I noticed the front of it was open and I closed it, only to hear frantic meowing, accompanied by a lot of thumping and banging. When I turned around, I saw one huge green eye peering out of the living room window and a paw waving frantically out of the front door! It was like a monster movie made on a shoestring budget.
I loved/love all my cats and it was a privilege to be their guardian, but when it comes to them being a soothing, creative influence, I say again, Hah!
To download a free review copy of Book I of The Silver Flute Trilogy, from Booksprout, click the image below.