I've had my cat, Tommy, since he was about six months old. His mother was abandoned at a local vet's office, along with a tiny fur ball that later became my companion of the past nearly fourteen years now. Tommy, or Tom-tom, as I often call him is no stranger to my late night wanderings through the fields of my imagination as I attempt to store the latest story on my old Mac laptop.
He has been around for all the ups and downs of the past four years as I returned to my writer's roots and while I thought I was teaching HIM a thing or two about what it takes to be a writer, come to find out it was he who was teaching ME! Here are the five writing lessons Tom-tom thinks every writer should learn...
LESSON NUMBER ONE...Don't lose sight of the fish.
Even though Tommy is almost fourteen which is fairly old for a cat, he still loves to play. He likes to do mock battles with my arm where he usually wins and I get to treat my war wounds. This Christmas he received a stuffed fish hanging at the end of a sort of fishing pole and he now enjoys going after that poor thing. There is a certain amount of focus and concentration involved in him capturing that coveted toy. His single-mindedness reminds me to stay focused with my writing if I ever want to be able to clutch the coveted prize of my own book contract.
LESSON NUMBER TWO...Get comfortable.
I imagine all cat owners have discovered at one time or another their feline friends squished into the most unlikely of places. I have found Tommy lounging in my bathtub, hiding in the closet, curled up in a shoe box half his size and even lying in the fireplace. I have a feeling Tommy does some of his best daydreaming when he's hanging upside down somewhere which reminds me to relax and allow my imagination to run wild. I intend to do quite a bit of writing in the coming years so I will need plenty of ideas to work on.
LESSON NUMBER THREE...Save a bit for later.
Tommy is a very classy cat. He's very meticulous about his hygiene routine and never raises his voice when I'm sleeping. But there is one area where he could use a little work. Whenever he decides it's time to eat Tommy always wants to save a bit for later. I walk into the kitchen after he's done and constantly find food he's stashed under the refrigerator or behind the water bowl or even UNDER his food dish...a trick I haven't figured out yet. But come to think about it, maybe Tommy's just trying to tell me not to rush things. When I finish a story maybe I should set it aside for later instead of immediately jumping into revisions? Saving it for later will allow me to appreciate it with new eyes.
LESSON NUMBER FOUR...Share with others.
I know my cat loves me. Even as I write this, he is curled up by my side in this old recliner of mine...purring with eyes closed and trying to hold my hand which makes it a challenge to type. He seems to think sometimes that I'm his mother and should be proud of all his feline accomplishments. Like the time he caught a mouse who unfortunately sought out the warmth of my house and then deposited the body at my feet like a prize trophy. Looking at me as if to say, "Mommy, aren't you proud of me? I've learned to share!" Maybe Tommy's trying to tell me that I should share my stories with others? To find people who can help polish my words until they shine like a newly cleaned kitty coat.
LESSON NUMBER FIVE...Learn to relax.
I'm sure being a companion cat can be a hard job at times and it's one Tommy takes seriously. He always makes sure to greet me when I get home at night. He butts heads each morning to wake me up so I'm not late for work. He smells my breath to make sure I'm presentable. He even sleeps by my side when I'm not well so I won't feel all alone. Despite all of Tommy's responsibilities of being my number one pet, he still manages to find time to just relax and hang out. And that might be the most important lesson of all. I need to remember to have fun with my writing...to relax and enjoy what I do every day no matter whether I ever get my stories published or not...otherwise, what is the point of even turning on my computer?
Thanks, Tommy! Who knew one cat would know so much about writing?