Monday, February 24, 2014

Literary Life Hacks: Cat Got Your Keyboard? @ Curiosity Quills

This is my girlchild, Isosceles. 

By Samantha Lehane 

(originally posted on on 2/5/2014)

If dogs are man’s best friend, then cats are the friend that only sends one word replies to your texts. You may like to tell people that you own a cat, but you know that the reverse is true. Cats are adorable, fuzzy, and occasionally cuddly but they aren’t always the best writing collaborators. They are naturally drawn to the warmth of your laptop and instinctively want your attention when you need to focus. How do you write when your furry companion demands petting? The secret is creating a writing space that will suit both you and your cat.

Accept that Your Cat is Your Master 

What makes for cat-approved writing area? Dog owners might suggest closing your office door. Oh, the naivety. A closed door is a challenge to a territorial minded feline. You have three choices: you’ll go crazy from the meowing, the cat will claw through door, or you’ll just open it. This pattern will be repeated. Cats need to claim a space or else you’ll get no peace. The battle will reach Game of Thrones levels. Your cat is a Lannister, your writing space is Westeros, and you cat will always pay its debts.

Analyze Your Space 

Step into your writing area and take a gander at it. You might already have a cat on your desk, licking its fur, waiting for you to attempt the next chapter of your novel. If your cat is like mine, it’s about to lift its leg and start licking its butt. Just to make things socially awkward. Besides the cat, what else do you see? A desk, filing cabinet, bookshelf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer figurines? Maybe that last one is just me. Is there an area for the cat? Analyze the space. Could it be more cat-friendly?

 Give in to your Overlord 

Before I decided to just work with my cat, I tried to make my writing area a kitty free zone. This was a lesson in futile furniture arrangement. Your cat considers your house its domain and you’re a large furless tenant useful for only buying fancy feast. Give in to your master. Just let go and let your cat claim its territory. You can do it on your terms. Just make your cat think that it’s their own idea.

 Cat-ify Your Writing Area 

Look at your writing area and visualize a good spot for you cat. Somewhere close enough to the action but far enough away that your cat isn’t adding extra ‘ghkkjltiis’ to your manuscript. If you have cats, you probably already have a cat perch or tower in your house. Why not just move it into your office? If you and your cat already like the tower where it is, you’ll need to create a suitable alternative. Your cat king demands a throne so it can oversee its scribe at work.

This is my handsome boy, Chimi.
Where in your fortress of writing solitude can a cat doze, purr, groom, and loiter? Some people have desks with shelves attached that can be transformed into a kitty roost. Others might have a nearby table that will fit a cat bed. If you don’t have any current areas that are fit for a feline, then put in an extra bedside table or a stool by your desk. I have a padded bench next to my desk so my fuzzy baby can be near me without being on me. My cat loves her bench and usually leaves me alone so I can torment my characters in peace. When she feels extra cuddly, I scratch behind her ears and leave a pinch of cat nip on the bench. This method of creating a cat zone in my office (and the occasional cat nip bribe) has led to inter-species harmony.

It can work for you.

If All Else Fails, Get a Cardboard Box 

Seriously. Cats love cardboard boxes. It’ll ignore you for days.

Welcome to a world of magic and dragons, of nightmares, vampires, zombies, and aliens. We are the trusty sidekicks, the parallel universe of dreams, the things that go bump in the night. We are writers helping writers. We are innovators. We are escapists. We are literary marauders.
Curiosity Quills publishes fiction and non-fiction in many genres. They also post guides and interviews for writers.

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