Last year I posted about Writers and Cats, a combination that seems as natural as pen and paper. But just because cats and writers are inextricably linked in most people’s minds, doesn’t mean that dogs aren’t equally ideal writing partners. Judging from all the books about dogs out there, they’re just as inspiring as cats. Poems have also been written about dogs, including this one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And no one can dispute that dogs are excellent companions, keeping writers company in their lonely work and getting them out of the house once in a while.
“When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad.”
Here are a few dog-loving writers and their pups…
What do you think? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Or do you like both (or neither)? Share in the comments…
Given that libraries have kept cats as far back as Ancient Egypt, it’s probably safe to assume that bookstores have had resident cats for as long as there have been bookstores. Besides stopping rodents from destroying the books, cats are a soothing presence to (non-allergic) staff and visitors, act as a store’s (or library’s) public face, and add life to what can be a sterile environment. On top of all that, cats and book people are simply a natural combination. Here’s a small sampling of the bookstore cats who keep books safe and hearts warmed…
“Magnificent” Spike lives at Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri. Spike has his own page here, where you can find out fun facts about him, like his one-word description mentioned above.
Parrot, from Pegasus Books in Oakland, California, may be grumpy but she still gets fan mail.
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.
Do you have cats? Tell me about them in the comments. Tell me about your other pets too!
As with so many of my posts, this one is inspired by an article I read. In this case, the article shares advice on writing from famous writers. I don’t know about anyone else, but what I find most valuable about advice from other writers isn’t necessarily the advice itself (although it’s often helpful) but the chance to bond over writing, and to affirm that I’m doing something right. Whether you enjoy the advice, the bonding, or the affirmations, here are some of the best tips from other writers, as well as a couple of my own…
Get a Cat (Muriel Spark via her character Mrs. Hawkins, from A Far Cry From Kensington)
As someone with three cats, I can’t argue with this advice 🙂 Cats are a source of joy, laughter, and purrs (and my lap cat makes sure I sit and focus). If you’re not a cat person, you might want to consider bunnies or small pets (rats, mice, hamsters…) They’re equally good company and shelters always have many available for adoption.
Stop While the Going Is Good (Ernest Hemingway)
Stop while you’re on a roll and let your subconscious keep working on it until you start again. The best way to write is to not force it.
Writing Anything Is Better than Nothing (Katherine Mansfield)
Just write. The more you do it, the better you get, even if what you’re writing will never go further than the paper/screen it’s on.
Some advice of my own:
Keep the TV, music, and internet (if you can) off. Some people can work with distractions; I’m not one of them. But even if the noise doesn’t bother you, words, phrases, storylines, and even rhythms can burrow into your subconscious and end up in your work. That can happen anyway (it’s just part of the fun of having a brain!) but why increase the risk?
Take up needlepoint. Or any craft you can easily do while staring at a computer screen. Crafts that occupy your hands while your mind is free to focus elsewhere are great for writing.
Take an editing class. Not that you should edit your own work, but you should be able to polish it before submitting it anywhere. No publisher is interested in a manuscript full of errors (it’ll also help with other things, like work emails and social media posts).
Do you have writing advice to share? What tip has helped you most as a writer? Let me know in the comments…
On the run from both vampires and hunters, Mara and Lee are forced to confront the bleak reality of their future together. But an unexpected turn of events offers Mara the chance to shift things in her favor–at a cost. Will she walk away or will she embrace the magic?