Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing with cats

It's hard to find time and space to write. I don't require much, really. Just a soft place to recline with my laptop, adequate lighting, and the ability to move my hands on the keyboard. I don't even need silence. I've learned to write with the TV on in the background. Still, I prefer music of my choosing or for certain scenes, quiet. But I also prefer to write in my living room, so I can't expect my husband to sit quietly while I monopolize the space. He tends to go to bed a lot earlier than I do, so I get my writing quiet time late at night. I write best at that time. I get too distracted during the day with things I should be doing.

So last night after he went to bed, I settled on the couch to work on my newest novel. It's actually not new, it's something I started a long time ago. It was a difficult decision to start working on it again. It will be the third book in the Catching Bodel series (seeing as Becoming Grace Divine, the second novel, is already written). What makes this one difficult is that I've chosen to write about some serious issues. I was in an abusive relationship when I was 19, and it changed my life. I'm happy to say that I've recovered from it, grown from it, and am stronger for it. But I've always wanted to try and make a difference for other people who are suffering from, or have suffered, abuse. So I set out to write a novel about Gray and her road to recovery.

I'm struggling with the novel, to be honest. I love the character. I love her strength and she has a great sense of humor. But it's difficult to write about the trauma she went through. It's not the same as what I did, I changed things for dramatic effect, but also to distance myself a little from it. I don't want to write my experience. That is not my intention. I wanted to create a woman who could be anyone, and show her transition from victim to survivor. But when it comes to writing the intense scenes, when the story gets too close to my old reality, writing it becomes almost painful.

Anyway, back to the the title of this post. I was struggling on the couch to write a particularly difficult scene, and my gray cat Sylvanas was stretched out on my legs as usual. She is not a particularly cuddly cat. She hates being picked up and tends to keep to herself, unlike my other two cats. But when Silly is in a certain mood, she chooses to show affection. Such as late at night when I write. Her spot is on my legs. She is a large cat, the biggest of my 3. She stretches out from ankle to thigh, to be sure Physgig and Echo can't join her.

This creates a problem, unfortunately. Because both Echo and Physgig LOVE to cuddle. They are constantly on top of me or my husband. So when Silly takes up that much space, and the laptop is on my lap, there isn't enough room for all 3 cats on me. Echo is a large fat black cat, and she NEEDS to sleep on your chest, as close to suffocating you as possible. Unfortunately, due to her size, I can't type while she's on me like that, so I have to tell her no. She looks devastated and sometimes manages to find a place to jam herself between me and the couch, under my arm, so that I can keep writing and snuggle her at the same time. But mostly I have to shove her away.

Physgig is a very small orange and white ball of fluff. She weighs in at a whopping 7 lbs and likes to curl into tiny little balls. She can sit on my chest and I can see over her and type perfectly around her. Echo is insanely jealous that Physgig gets to sit on me like that and she can't. Many wars have been fought in my house over who gets to sit on the best parts of Catmom. (I know, I'm one cat short of being a crazy cat lady.)

So last night while I was struggling to write the emotional scene, Physgig jumped up on my chest and curled up. But she didn't do her usual routine. Instead, she plopped down and tucked her head under my chin, something she does when she knows I'm upset. She lays on her side and leans back, pressing the back of her neck and the top of her head under my jaw. She keeps her head pressed back against me and purrs with this adorable look on her face. I gave her kisses and kept on writing, instantly feeling better. The words came more easily and before I knew it, it was 2 am and the scene was written.

So sometimes it's really frustrating to write with a cat draped over your arms, or stepping on your keyboard. But I wouldn't give my fur babies up for anything. They make me a better writer. Even if their tail whapping the keyboard adds a few extra letters.