I had my cat, Tommy, from the time he was about six months old until I lost him over a year ago at the ripe old age of eighteen. His mother was abandoned at a local vet’s office, along with a tiny fur ball that later became my companion. Tommy, or Tom-tom, as I often call him was no stranger to my late night wanderings through the fields of my imagination as I attempt to store the latest story on my laptop.
He had been around for all the ups and downs over the years as I returned to my writer’s roots and while I thought I was teaching HIM a thing or two about what it takes to be a writer, come to find out it was he who was teaching ME! Here are the five writing lessons Tom-tom thinks every writer should learn…
LESSON NUMBER ONE…
Don’t lose sight of the fish.
Even though Tommy was eighteen which was fairly old for a cat, he still loved to play. He liked to do mock battles with my arm where he usually won and I got to treat my war wounds. One Christmas he received a stuffed fish hanging at the end of a sort of fishing pole and he enjoyed going after that poor thing. There was a certain amount of focus and concentration involved in him capturing that coveted toy. His single-mindedness reminded me to stay focused with my writing if I ever wanted to be able to clutch the coveted prize of my own book contract.
LESSON NUMBER TWO…Get comfortable.
I imagine all cat owners have discovered at one time or another their feline friends squished into the most unlikely of places. I have found Tommy lounging in my bathtub, hiding in the closet, curled up in a shoe box half his size and even lying in the fireplace. I have a feeling Tommy did some of his best daydreaming when he hung upside down somewhere which reminded me to relax and allow my imagination to run wild. I intend to do quite a bit of writing in the coming years so I will need plenty of ideas to work on.
LESSON NUMBER THREE…Save a bit for later.
Tommy was a very classy cat. He was very meticulous about his hygiene routine and very rarely raised his voice when I’m sleeping. But there was one area where he could use a little work. Whenever he decided it was time to eat, Tommy always wanted to save a bit for later. I’d walk into the kitchen after he’s done and constantly find food he’s stashed under the refrigerator or behind the water bowl or even UNDER his food dish…a trick I haven’t figured out yet. But come to think about it, maybe Tommy was just trying to tell me not to rush things. When I finish a story maybe I should set it aside for later instead of immediately jumping into revisions? Saving it for later will allow me to appreciate it with new eyes.
LESSON NUMBER FOUR…Share with others.
I knew my cat loved me. When I would write, he would curl up by my side in my old recliner…purring with eyes closed and trying to hold my hand which made it a challenge to type. He seemed to think sometimes I was his mother and should be proud of all his feline accomplishments. Like the time he caught a mouse who unfortunately sought out the warmth of my house and then deposited the body at my feet like a prize trophy. Looked at me as if to say, “Mommy, aren’t you proud of me? I’ve learned to share!” Maybe Tommy was trying to tell me I should share my stories with others? To find people who can help polish my words until they shine like a newly cleaned kitty coat.
LESSON NUMBER FIVE…Learn to relax.
I’m sure being a companion cat can be a hard job at times and it’s one Tommy took seriously. He always made sure to greet me when I got home at night. He butted heads each morning to wake me up so I wouldn’t be late for work. He smelt my breath to make sure I was presentable at all times. He even slept by my side when I wasn’t feeling well so I wouldn’t feel all alone. Despite all of Tommy’s responsibilities of being my number one pet, he still managed to find time to just relax and hang out. And that might be the most important lesson of all. I need to remember to have fun with my writing…to relax and enjoy what I do every day no matter whether I ever get my stories published or not…otherwise, what is the point of even turning on my computer?
Thanks, Tommy! Who knew one cat would know so much about writing?
International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.