Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writers Need Cats!

"Computer Cat" (Pat Kight, Flickr)












Today I'm sharing a post I wrote for A Round of Words in 80 Days, an online community of writers who set goals, check-in with progress reports, and encourage each other to persevere. Thank you, Kait Nolan, for leading the way.

"Writers Need Cats!"

You may think that writers work in isolation, hunched over the keyboard, and requiring absolute quiet. But I recommend, for the most consistent kick-in-the-pants, inspirational writing companion, you should adopt a cat.

Before Tiger went to kitty heaven, I had the means to closely observe the links between cats and writerly creativity. 
  1. Cats know when we should stop working at the computer. Not only will they tread lightly over the keyboard and drape themselves gingerly upon it, but should that not be sufficient, they will leap upon your amassed rough draft and mark selected pages with muddy prints, ensuring you take appropriate breaks from intense writing sessions. 
  2. Cats inspire thoughtful analysis. Who has observed a cat gazing into what we cannot see and not realized their attachment to issues far grander than a plot hole – and our own need to think of unique alternatives beyond the outline? Our creativity is enhanced when we explore different perspectives. Cats ensure our connection to the infinite. 
  3. Cats model confidence. They move with distinction, poise, and know with certainty that their needs will be taken care of. They do not fear public speaking nor doubt their writing skills. 
  4. Cats prompt a range of emotion useful for character development. What cat owner has not received tender gifts from the garden? My Aunt Tessie escaped upstairs in terror after attempting to pick up the ‘toy’ snake Tiger had been playing with in the living room. This gave me a powerful lesson in the physical and emotional reactions characters have to stress. 
  5. Cats show us that important fictional and real relationships require love, compassion, and trust. I yet remember that fateful night when I awoke to find my cat nestled next to my tummy, ready to give birth. I learned inventiveness that night as well as respect for the unexpected, useful for plot twists and heightened tension. 
  6. Cats nurture the pleasure principle by allowing us to pet them, rewarding us with a low-throated purr, encouraging us to pamper ourselves when we achieve our writing goals. 
  7. Cats teach tenacity. When a cat hunts, sneaking forward slowly on unsuspecting prey, no matter the outcome or how many times the goal remains out of reach, a cat will persist. As should we in our story-telling skills and ruthless revision and editing. 
And so, my writing friends of ROW80 fame, once a cat is added to your life, I believe your writing will improve, even if you already have a dog leaning on your knee for attention.

"My Office Cat" (Jenny, Flickr)