About Kittie

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Feline musings and lacking chill

I write in my pyjamas on my sofa surrounded by my cats. It’s a bit isolating — Allison Schroeder

I can’t say I write in my pj’s on a sofa. Not my perch or outfit of choice. I’ll pretty much write anywhere but I don’t find sofas ideal no matter how much back support they may have.

I will write with the laptop sitting on my lap with my feet propped up on another chair. I will write sitting cross-legged on the floor.

I’m not surrounded by cats when I write simply because I don’t have any cats in my home. Except this week, I’m cat-sitting for a family friend. A one-and-a-half year old ginger/sand tabby named Hoody. The family has only had him for a month. They found him at the local humane society. Nobody is clear on his backstory. The folks at the humane society believe he was living on the streets.

But he is exceedingly friendly and playful. If he was living on the streets, he wasn’t there for any extended period of time. He loves attention but I always default to describing him as needy. I can also describe him as lacking a little chill. I blame that on his youth and whatever occurred in his life prior to finding his forever home.

As I write this blog, the ginger furball is napping beside the laptop on the kitchen table that doubles as my office, my writing HQ, my perch of choice. He’s found some space amongst the chaotically organized research material that inhabits the table.

I did have a cat before. I had to put him down 8-1/2 years ago. He was losing weight and it seemed his kidneys were starting to shut down. There was no other option, if you think about it. That was all before I started writing. So, I’ve never had the experience of writing while being surrounded by cats. That seems a little distracting to me, especially if they’re not particularly chill which is something I highly prize at this point. Walking all over the keyboard is hardly endearing, either. I certainly won’t miss that when his family comes to pick him up next Monday morning.

I suppose Hoody’s presence is a good way to figure out if I’m ready to make room for a furball or two of my own. Heading into Day Three… the answer is no. I’m thinking my caretaking tendencies were satiated when I had the cat and the horse. Is it horrible to be counting down the days until the furball goes home? I love animals. I love horses. I love cats and other furry and feathered creatures. But it takes time and responsibility to have one in your life. I worry he’s not being entertained enough. I worry I’ll come home to find something he’s destroyed. Child-proofing a home is one thing. Cat-proofing a home is a whole different ballgame.

Schroeder said it was a bit isolating being surrounded by her cats while she’s in her pj’s writing something. Writing can be isolating, but not in a negative way. You’re isolated with your thoughts and ideas, the very things you want to put onto paper. I like being isolated in that way. Let’s me get into the heads of my characters and talk or listen to them. I enjoy my alone time with them.

The isolation I need probably doesn’t go over very well with family members or acquaintances who don’t quite understand. I suppose the fear of me possibly being labelled a hermit or anti-social doesn’t sit well with family. The creative soul misunderstood.

Anyway, I move through life knowing that the creative soul can, and will be, misunderstood. It doesn’t bother me. I’m past the point of giving a shit about what a lot folks think I should or shouldn’t do. However, if anyone tries to coerce me into doing something I ultimately don’t want to do, I will rain Hell down on them. Just a warning.

Now, back to writing and trying to help a feline house guest gain some chill before I lose mine.

Don’t know any other way

Being a writer is an endless study in human transition and lessons learned or forgotten or misapplied —Sloane Crosley

Being a writer is also realizing that the endless study in human transition can and does include the writer him/herself. That one’s own lessons learned, forgotten or misapplied, factor into one’s storytelling and the stories one wants to tell.

The stories I plan to tell will not make everyone happy. For those who like stories that are made of sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice, they can walk their asses right out the fucking door. Nothing I have to offer is made of sugar. I inhabit the realm of the salty, the tart, the bittersweet (emphasis on bitter, perhaps) and the uncomfortably hot. All that, yet still uniquely flavourful. Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

For the first time in quite awhile, I spent a good chunk of the weekend with my characters, my two boys. In many ways, the time together didn’t seem to suffer from a life that had kept me away from them since February. We carved out moments where we made a little time for each other. Never once did they disappear from me. They were and always have been close by. Never far from the reality of my life. Biding their time, and occasionally shaking their fists and even brandishing a weapon to use against anyone, real or fictional, who seemed to be in a threatening position to take me away from them.

It’s not surprising that other characters who might want me to tell their stories, have kept their distance from me because of the boys’ feral-like attitude to strangers and folks they don’t like. And there is a small list of folks they don’t like. Fortunately, none of them are the fictional characters I plan to work with in the future. So, yeah, the boys have gotten a bit better at allowing those folks to come closer. At least, close enough that I can hear them if they raise their voices.

Have I mentioned in previous posts that they are fiercely protective and possessive of me and what the three of us have together? I believe I have.

Most importantly, my boys love me. I don’t know why but they do. The fierce feelings are mutual.

In many ways, my boys are a blend of lessons learned, forgotten and misapplied not only in my own life but in those around me and what I see in the world. It’s more of a world view, I suppose, but the personal is very much in play.

In other ways, my boys are more than any word I could use to describe their presence and meaning to me. They are more than the ink that will form the vocabulary I will use to tell their story. We have a hold on each other. It is a powerful feeling to experience. It is tangible and intangible but undeniably visceral.

It’s bliss to be working on my writing projects again. Everything that goes into working on it, is familiar and warm. It’s something I fall into effortlessly without much thought. It’s also something I have been craving for a long time.

I think it has everything to do with the boys. They make it so easy for me to fall in with them, to let them take my hands and have them show me what they want me to know. It hasn’t been easy having them wait for me. Sometimes it hasn’t been easy getting them to co-operate when they’ve had their petulant moments.

Yes, we occasionally struggle and fight each other. But it’s only because we’re fighting for each other. This is what happens when we’re protective and possessive of each other.

My boys don’t know any other way. And that’s ok. Because when I’m with them, I don’t know any other way, either.

Not everybody, just somebody

I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way — Thomas Keller

Creating a photographic image, a painting, a piece of music, a piece of writing or even a quilt, has to please the person creating it. Sounds a little selfish? I think it’s more along the lines of taking pride in the work. It’s revealing what you can do or showing off what a little gumption (which includes taking a really deep breath) can get you.

It reveals a part of you that might not come out all that often in everyday life. It is your creativity. The artistic kind. It represents what you think is beautiful and what your artistic sensibilities are. It’s your artistic expression. Sometimes revealing that expression can be the most terrifying thing a person can do. It is a sacred space that most people keep to themselves or only share with their closest friends and confidantes.

But when you get the nerve to reveal that side of you to a larger audience, beyond the friends and the family, sometimes you have to remind yourself it’s impossible to please everybody with what you want to create. So, you must start with pleasing yourself. Be true to yourself. Create what you want and go from there.

When I started seriously pursuing writing as a more than a hobby (which was right from the get go), I didn’t pursue it for any real financial gain. These days, earning an income by just being a novelist doesn’t happen all that easily. Those who are well-established and have a proven track record with their writing can probably do it.

I started pursuing writing because it was a creative outlet I had not fully explored when I was much younger and I had wondered whether or not I could be a storyteller. All my other creative outlets had their moments with me. But all those outlets have led me to where I’m at now. I still have a strong interest in photography. It was one of my first loves. That hasn’t changed. But it’s been relegated to more personal pursuits rather than using it as a source of revenue.

I’m funny about the writing in that way, as well. I know folks who write for a living. They do corporate work or write for niche magazines and newspapers. Kudos to them for making writing their livelihood. Me? I can’t seem to wrap my head around juggling these two things: 1) writing to get paid and; 2) writing because I want to tell a story. Writing, for the most part, is a pleasure for me. And that includes the times I stared at a blank screen wondering where the fuck all those great ideas that popped into my head when I was driving home from work, had disappeared to. The process, with all its warts, is something I enjoy. But once money factors into it, writing will eventually become work. That’s the fastest way to ambivalence and disdain. I love writing. I don’t ever want to hate it.

You hear the odd person remark that they can’t believe they’re getting paid to do something they love. Must be nice. I have yet to utter those words. I think that experience is saved for those who were born knowing what they want to do with their lives and get the opportunity to do it. To be honest, it’s a goal I’ve never thought to aspire to. I have far more interesting words to utter.

I write to get something off my chest whether it be good, bad or ugly. Sure, there are other ways. But I think those activities are deemed either illegal or unacceptable or both by society’s standards. When I write to get something off my chest, it could be anything really. I suppose it’s one of the reasons I maintain this blog. Other things that I want to get off my chest are stories… like the one my two boys are telling me. Those I can’t blow off onto a blog post. That takes structure and attention to detail to get that off my chest.

I maintain this blog not to attract attention to myself, even though it’s kind of naturally built-in. I maintain it to keep writing and maybe to hone my keyboarding skills. I remember taking typewriting classes in school. Who here remembers typewriters? They were the clunkier, heavier versions of today’s computer keyboards. I think I managed to type 30 words per minute. No more than that. I should figure out how many words I can type out per minute now. Probably 30 still. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Do I ultimately care about how many people have read my posts? No. There millions of blogs out there. I’m just one little voice. If I hit five views for one day, I’ll be happy. If I get zero, I’m fine with that, too.

When I wrote the first book, did I care about how it would sell? Not really. I cared more that I told a decent story. The content of the book might not be everybody’s cup of tea but I never wrote it to be everybody’s cup of tea. Without a shadow of a doubt, the second book won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, either. It’ll be my cup of tea… with a bottle of mezcal off to the side. If you like my sensibilities, you’ll probably like it, too.

I’ve been told that if you write your book, an audience will find you. Or something to that effect. I’d like to believe that. I don’t write for the masses because it would be too hard to do. My brain isn’t wired that way. I have to be true to myself. I write because I think I have interesting stories to tell. And depending on how you define ‘interesting’, those stories are not what everybody wants.

And I’m ok with that. I never meant to please everybody. Maybe just somebody.