Writers and Cats

black cat holding persons arm
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Writers are known to have an affinity for cats, so much so that books have been written on the topic (the latest is Writers and their Cats by Alison Nastasi). As a cat lover, I get the appeal. Cats are good company, generally unobtrusive, frequently entertaining, and the perfect distraction when you need a few minutes away from the keyboard. If you’re lucky enough to have a lap cat, they’ll make sure you get work done by helpfully pinning you in place for hours (and they keep you warm too). My home would feel pretty sad and empty without my three furbabies.

Cats can also provide literary inspiration, especially to poets. T.S. Eliot wrote an entire book about them. Jorge Luis Borges wrote these words:

Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.

-“To a Cat” by Jorge Luis Borges

It seems that what the ancient Egyptians started, writers are happy to carry on. I know I am.

Alice-Walker cats
Alice Walker
s king cats
Stephen King
ann m martin cats
Ann M. Martin
hemingway cats
Ernest Hemingway
colette cats
Colette
n gaiman cats
Neil Gaiman
le guin cats
Ursula K. Le Guin
murakani cats
Haruki Murakani

Do you have cats? Tell me about them in the comments. Tell me about your other pets too!

Read More:

7 Famous Writers and Their Cats

Iconic Writers and Their Cats

10 Writers and Their Cats

Famous Writers and Their Cats

16 Famous Writers and Their Cats

How to Create Your Wildlife Community

close up of rabbit on field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Check out this guest post I wrote on “Druid Life”…

Druid Life

A Guest Blog from Aspasίa S. Bissas

Experiencing community is one of the more rewarding aspects of life, especially when you find it in unexpected places. In my last guest post on Druid Life I wrote about my wildlife community; in this post I thought I’d share some tips on how you can forge a relationship with your local wildlife and create your own, perhaps unexpected, community.

Learn About Wildlife: If you want to get along with wildlife, you need to know how. What do you do if you come across a nest of baby bunnies? Is it okay to feed birds bread? How should you react if you come face to face with a coyote? A great source of information are wildlife rescue organizations. Find the one(s) in your general area and check out their websites or follow them on social media. Here in Toronto we have a fantastic…

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Would You Rather: Book Edition

woman reading book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I thought I’d post something fun today, so I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings.

Would you…

1. Rather read only a series or standalone books?

A series. Standalone books can be unsatisfying, but I can happily read a good series for as long as the author is willing to keep putting out books. With a series you can also go back to the beginning and rediscover things you’d forgotten, or notice something new (technically you can also do that with a standalone, but a series gives you so much more to work with).

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

Female. I’m tired of the male perspective, which has really had a disproportionate amount of emphasis put on it for far too long. I’d also rather read female authors–they usually can write all characters with depth, not just the half they personally relate to.

3. Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstore) or Amazon?

I’d rather shop online. I’m an introvert and crowds make me uncomfortable. Also, shopping online doesn’t require pants. (Most “actual” bookstores have websites too–you can see a whole list of the ones that carry my books here–just scroll to the bottom.)

4. Rather all books become movies or TV shows?

I’ll have to go with TV because that format offers the chance to fully explore a story. The Harry Potter series would have been so much better if they’d made it into a TV show instead of movies, with one or two seasons per book.

5. Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

This is a tough one. I like to savour books, but 5 pages a day doesn’t give you much. Still, 5 books a week sounds like it would become a chore rather than a pleasure, so I guess I’d rather get 5 pages a day and fully enjoy them.

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or an author?

Author. Done and done. 🙂

7.  Rather read only the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

If I can still re-read books I’ve already read, then I’ll take a new book every 6 months. If I can read only one new book every 6 months, I think I’d prefer the same 20 on repeat (if I get to pick them).

8. Rather be a librarian or own a book store?

I’ve thought about doing both, but I still sometimes dream about owning a bookstore, so I’ll go with that.

9. Rather read only your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Genre. Authors can stop writing, but there will always be something new to read within a genre.

10. Rather read only physical books or eBooks?

Physical books. They aren’t always as convenient to cart around, but I find them more enjoyable to read (and screens are bad for your eyes).

What do you think–do you prefer series or standalone books? Physical or ebooks? Share your answers in the comments below (and let me know if you do the whole thing and post it).

PS: Have you stopped by my book tour yet? Find out about my books, read excerpts and guest posts, ask a question, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a sweet custom Love Lies Bleeding travel mug filled with goodies (including a little something handmade by me)!

The 4 Responsibilities of Writers…Maybe

phillip pullman

Phillip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, recently wrote an essay on the responsibilities of writers (the essay appears in his new collection Daemon Voices). Four of these key responsibilities were summed up and illustrated by Nathan Gelgud, and after reading them, well, I’m not so sure I agree. Here’s the list:

  1. Make money.
  2. Protect language.
  3. Have tact.
  4. Service the story.

On the surface these seem more or less reasonable, but when Pullman expands on each point I start to take some issue.

Make Money: Pullman states that we [writers] have the responsibility of “doing it as well and as profitably as we can.”

Yes and no. Of course writers should be compensated for their work–because it is work. It’s a little shocking how often writers, who spend many lonely hours creating even the shortest pieces, are expected to give their work away for nothing. And now there’s a whole slew of indie writers who routinely give away their first novels free, hoping to hook readers with cliffhanger endings and sell them the next installment in the series. These authors are selfishly making it harder for the rest of us to earn a living by devaluing all our work in the eyes of readers. But successful authors like Pullman are speaking from a rather lofty position when they announce that writers have a “responsibility” to be as profitable as possible. Easy to say for a lucky few.

Profit also shouldn’t be a writer’s main priority: that should be the writing. Making money is good and necessary (yes, those of us in the arts have as much right to earn a comfortable living as anyone else), but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the art.

Protect Language: At first this one sounds okay–until you delve into it a little more. Pullman states that those of us who use language professionally “are responsible for looking after it.” Looking after it how? Protecting it from what? Should we fight the inevitable changes that all languages undergo? Should my characters speak in stilted dialogue so that the language isn’t sullied by the more relaxed slang that most people use in casual conversation? And what language should we be preserving, exactly? Language as presented in textbooks? The language of the majority that’s spoken right now, or the language spoken twenty years ago? Fifty? A hundred? I agree–some “innovations” in language are beyond annoying (using “gift” as a verb springs immediately to mind), but language is a living, breathing, evolving thing. It’s preserved by being used, no matter how or by whom. The only truly protected language is a dead one. Maybe Pullman wants us all to write in Latin.

Have Tact: On this responsibility, Pullman explains, “We who tell stories should be modest about the job, and not assume that just because the reader is interested in the story, they’re interested in who’s telling it. A storyteller should be invisible…”

As an introvert I would love to be invisible. But since when have writers not named Anonymous ever been invisible? We’re expected to provide pictures and bios, to give interviews, go to events, interact with readers. I won’t even get started on social media. From what I’ve experienced, readers want us to share, not just about our books, but about ourselves. Still, anyone not interested can feel free to tell me to shut up. I will happily oblige.

Service the Story: I thought this would be the one responsibility I fully agreed with–until I read Pullman’s description. He says that as a “good servant,” he has to keep regular hours, stay sober, and stay in good health. Not what I was expecting. It’s great if doing these things helps Pullman write the best possible story he can, but that doesn’t work for everyone–and why should it? Those in poor health can still write, and even write brilliantly. I’m not suggesting anyone crack open a bottle of Merlot before hitting the keyboard, but writing under the (slight) influence can stimulate creativity. Service the story your own way.

Responsibility is a heavy word, and I think Phillip Pullman may have taken it too lightly. Writing is difficult enough without feeling obligated to burden oneself with someone else’s ideas of what’s necessary. What writers are responsible for is to write, to get their words out, and to do it whatever way works for them. As someone wise once said: do you, boo. Do you.

What do you think? Do you agree with Phillip Pullman? Share in the comments…

You can see the original article with Pullman’s quotes here.