So it is clear that I have to make a sad admission. I can’t be a real writer at all as I chose to have a dog as a pet. Ignoring all the best advice and forgetting the history of association with cats and writers, I went headlong into my pet project and Yalla the exuberant cocker spaniel puppy entered my life last summer.
Now there was of course the initial ‘honeymoon’ period in our relationship and an ‘all is forgiven’ period that followed as little Yalla was clearly trying his very best to fit in with my quiet and concentrated writer lifestyle. I even happily pleaded forgiveness for him when he munched away happily on a book I had just received from a writer friend. The cover was beyond saving, but luckily his taste in words kept him from eating the text.
Then came the spate of events in autumn and early winter that started to give me reason to understand why cats have been the pet of choice for writers over the eons.
Event One: Cats do not habitually reduce pencils to a thousand splinters in 30 seconds.
Event Two: Cats cannot imaginatively turn 25 pages of printed proof copy into a raging snow storm in less than a minute.
Event Three: Cats do not have an ongoing and totally ingrained habit of slapping huge (often wet) paws on your keyboard 4 times a day in an unmistakable sign that a walk is an absolute imperative within the next 30 seconds. If ignored, there are dangerous consequences involving electrical cables and the power supply to my Macbook.
Event Four: Cats have rarely been known to consume your first printed proof copy of your new book. Now I know my little spaniel is clever, but I have the distinct feeling he didn’t really understand all of the 75,000 words that he consumed in one sitting. My favourite ‘proofing’ pencil was also included in this episode. Dessert I presume.
Event Five: Cats of course can usually be accommodated in the writing process. Sitting on your lap, purring away while a writer happily does his or her own purring on a keyboard. With a spaniel this is not so easy. I have now come to the conclusion that my little pup rather enjoys tapping away at a keyboard. Here is one of his last efforts at prose:
‘Gkhvjgtvrzdxycv jklj9zp887t60468wR/%IZCFUXUTXhljm ..b m.bm .. . Mmm’
So after these little episodes, do you think I want to do a swap? Not in a million years. I just couldn’t imagine writing uninterrupted ever again. My time with my new best friend is too valuable. And anyway, I needed more time to think and all this walking really helps.