I’ve just got a cat, and let me tell you, she has done nothing to imporve my writing. For instance: I just misspelled ‘improve’ because I glanced at the cat while typing. She’s ruining everything.
And yet look at the roll-call of Genre Reader-friendly writers who love or loved kitties: Philip K. Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Bukowski, Neil Gaiman, Aldous Huxley, Stephen King. All of them, smitten with their kitten. Phat with their cat. Groggy with love for their moggie. Making a bee-line for their feline. Huxley even said: “If you want to write, keep cats.” I don’t understand why or how this works, and so this is why I’ve followed my cat, Boomer, around today in order to figure out what she has to teach me that will benefit my writing…
1. Have your uterus removed
As a result of being spayed, Boomer isn’t distracted by ‘urges’ anymore, and so can concentrate on more important things, like napping (and helping me write my YA novel, presumably).
Authors, if there are any wombs in the vicinity that are interfering with your writing, chuck them in the ‘medical waste’ basket and crack on.
2. Be unhelpful
“Can you help me change the duvet cover, sweetiekins?”
“Oh. Well, could you…”
“But what about…”
“Goddammit! Why do you have to be like that? All you do is take, take, ta…OUCH, JESUS, did you just scratch me?”
Functioning relationships with the people that you live with are very distracting. Make sure everyone knows to leave you alone by being entirely unhelpful about everything.
3. Nurture unrequited love
“What greater love than the love of a cat,” said Charles Dickens, studiously ignoring the look of total disinterest his cat was giving him. Charles loved cats as rabidly as Trump hates being ignored, and projected all of his feelings onto its evil, ginger face. Such was the strength of his love that, when his adored mog ‘Bob’ died, he had his paw attached to a knife which he then used as a letter opener. This is in no way a strange thing to do to something you purport to love, and I for one intend to turn my husband’s hand into a handy back-scratcher, should I outlive him (and imagine what else such an implement could do, eh).
Anyway, my point is, your relationship with a cat reflects the publishing industry’s inevitable reaction to your writing. Thus through early exposure to such an attitude do we grow the thick skin and layer of delusion needed to be a writer.
4. Be flexible
Cats can bend in half to lick the area where their uterus used to be. This must be some kind of metaphor for pushing your writing into uncomfortable areas, I guess?
I’m starting to struggle with this whole concept, to be honest.
5. Develop emotional honesty
“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason for another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” ~ Ernest Hemingway.
Aha! Well, this one is pretty clear. Your cat never equivocates, and nor should you when dealing with your characters’ emotions. Be raw, be open, be plain! Communicate your characters’ needs and wants to the reader! So if your protagonist wants their damn chin tickled, make them shove their face into another character’s hand. If they feel a bit hungry, have them scream their order repeatedly into a waiter’s face. Your hero is in love? Then why hasn’t he sprayed urine and semen onto the furniture, godammit?
So there you go. I hope we’ve all learned something today.
You can purchase the first book of Lindsay’s Madame Magenta series HERE.