Cats and dogs are so different. Dogs are loyal to a fault. It's the reason why there are so many abused dogs. If they're in an awful home, in spite of being horribly treated, dogs keep coming back--hoping this time, they'll get the love they want and need.
Cats? Cats won't put up with anything. If they're mistreated, they find ways to get revenge. A peed-on coat that's been draped across a couch. (Do you know how distinctive of an odor feline urine is and how difficult it is to get rid of?) Clawed-up drapes. Cats hold a grudge and they don't ever forget.
I read an article about how cats and novels are alike, and again, I was lost in thought. (I know. Sioux using her brain twice in the span of a couple of minutes? The chick is twisted.) Colleen M. Story (what an incredible name for a writer) claims that cats and novels are alike in three ways... and I can think of a fourth. Here they are:
1. Cats don't need us... and neither does a fleshed-out character. If we're doing our work well, our characters stand on their own. They're interacting with each other, and they don't need our meddling. We're a conduit. Like the Ides of March song goes:
I'm your vehicle, baby
I'll take you anywhere you want to go.
If we've done a good job of creating our characters, we're just the vehicle. The characters dictate to us where they're headed... and usually cats dictate to us when they want affection. Otherwise, stay away.
Sometimes our writing flows out at lightning speed. We can't explain why, but it sure is nice when it happens.
3. Cats are extremely particular... and so is our writing. While writing a novel, sometimes we try to cram something ill-fitting into our story. A plot event that we think is necessary, but seems out of place once we read it a second time. A well-crafted story with fleshed-out characters have finicky tastes... just like our cats that turn their nose up when some cheap tuna is being offered.
4. Cats can be comforting... and writing a novel is, too. When I had Elmo and Maya and Buttons, I loved cuddling with them. Curling up with a warm kitty--there's nothing like it. Writing can be a source of comfort and satisfaction, too. When we're able to tell a story that needs to be told (memoir or historical fiction), when we're able to craft a novel that keeps the reader engaged and entertained--that brings us a warm feeling... just like a purring cat.
Can you think of another way cats and novel-writing are like? Please share. And Angela, here's one more glimpse of a kitty.