Thursday, May 17, 2007

Goodbye Dear Girl

Today, I don’t want to write about writing. I want to write about my experience with Arby, a very special cat who I was fortunate enough to spend 17 years with. My niece was eight when she brought this six week old bundle of Russian Blue to me as a gift. I already had two cats, I wasn’t sure I could handle a third, especially a funnocious (this is a word I made up- do you think it will make it into Webster?) little kitten.

“What’s her name?” I asked Jennifer.

She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and smiled. “Arby. Arby Grey Face because she looks like a Native American Cat."

Within the hour, I knew Arby and I would be life mates. True to my instinct, she was with me through marriage and divorce, moves, job changes, and every aspect of my life. When I cried, she stayed close to me and provided comfort. When I laughed, she became playful and brought me even more joy. She stuck with me through thick and thin, sickness and health. She loved my boyfriend, Don, and always tried to greet him with a purr even when she wasn’t feeling up to it.

About a week ago, Arby took an unexpected turn. She had undergone treatment earlier in the year for an infection but bounced back. She was putting on weight, becoming involved again and seemed to be doing well. Then, about 10 days ago, her behavior changed. She became more quiet and subdued. I thought perhaps she had been having a few bad days. Until, a few days ago, she stopped eating. Yesterday, she was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure.

Having my dear Arby put to sleep was one of the most difficult things I have had to do in a long time. But, it was also humane and brave of both of us. I know she would have only worsened. Her quality of life was already diminished, and there was no chance of moving up hill. I miss her already.

As I have been with all of my pets who have reached end stage illnesses, I was with her at the time of her passing. I figure if my pet is with me throughout my life, I will be present when they take their last breath.

The good thing is that Arby is now with her best friends, Nicholas and Estelle. At one time, they were all three quite a bunch. I now say goodbye to Arby as her cat friends welcome her with open paws and purrs.

© 2007 Susan Littlefield

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Being a Writer

Have you ever thought about what it means to be a writer?

I have written since I was a little girl. Writing has always been in my blood, a part of my soul. For me, writing means putting pen to paper and seeing what will come out. Other than a church newsletter and poetry invitations in Dickens’ Style for an annual Dickens Street Faire, I have been published five times in my life; recently a short story in Adventures of the Average Woman and poetry years ago in some spiritual chapbooks. My hope is to continue to publish my short stories and complete my novel and have it published. But, if none of these things come to pass, I will still call myself a writer.

I love writing and putting words together and figuring out how to create an image, or evoke a feeling. As a writer, it is my job to pull the reader in and keep him or her happy until the end of the story. Hopefully, the reader will remember and be satisfied with my ending. If I can do those two things, then I have succeeded as a writer.

One of my pet peeves is the use of adverbs, the writer’s taboo. Good thing because I despise those pesty little rodents. However, I have learned that they sometimes have a place. For example, I used “hopefully” in the paragraph above. I could have written “I hope.” I made a conscious choice to use the adverb because it did not weaken my sentence.

I worry most about adverbs in my fiction. When I first started writing, my fiction was riddled with adverbs. I thought they made my writing more colorful, strengthened images. It was when I learned to describe (show) rather then use an adverb (tell) that I began to feel better about my writing. Sometimes I might choose an adverb, especially if the scene is fast paced and already has a lot of description.

© 2007 by Susan Littlefield

To Go Oxford....or Not

Do you use the Oxford comma or do you omit it? Some grammar sages say to either keep it or omit it, unless omitting the Oxford comma will...