Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Green Eyed Tabbies

The story of my green eyes tabbies started about two weeks ago when Don’s elderly friend, Mary, decided she wanted a cat after the death of her dog. In fact, Don had accompanied her to the feed store where she picked out the little peach and white tabby. A few days later, Mary decided the overactive kitty was a little too much for her.

When Don told me about her second doubts, I said, “If she can’t keep him, I’ll be glad to give him a home.” Since Arby’s death last May, my other cat, Buddy, has been lonely and a little bored. Not that he and Arby got along because, frankly, she hated him. However, he continued trying to win her affections, and he seemed entertained by her antics to keep him at bay.

I met my little friend for the first time last Wednesday. The first time I looked into those sweet little green eyes, I knew Oliver was destined to become part of our household. Buddy is a sweet loyal cat, but he also has a bit of a temper, especially when he doesn’t get his way. I think this goes back to his days on the street where he learned to charm humans and fight other cats until he got a nibble or a good meal. Thus, when I brought Oliver home, I didn’t know what to expect.

First thing, I set up Oliver’s space in my office area- his own food, water, kitty box, bed and toys. For the first 24 hours I didn’t let my green eyed boys near each other, but allowed them to both roam the house freely at different times so that they would become accustomed to each other’s smells. The next day, I came home from work, put Buddy in my room, and let Oliver roam free. That evening, I finally decided to allow them into the main living area at the same time.

At first, Oliver became too friendly and Buddy hissed a lot. Now, after four days of roaming the house together under supervised conditions, my two green eyed boys seem like they’re getting along better. Buddy still hisses to let Oliver know he is top cat (and I make sure Buddy gets a whole lot more affection for being so tolerant of another baby), and Oliver is learning to just sit back and wait for a better moment to use his kitty-friendly skills. I thought I was home today when they walked past each other in the hallway….and their noses moved toward each other….but, just when their noses started to touch, Buddy let out a warning, “hsssss.”

Okay, maybe that’s almost home.

As for my writing: because Oliver needed rest time in his own space, and the office is where I write, I temporarily moved my laptop out to the dining room table. I didn’t want to give Buddy any ideas that I was giving our new little guy extra petting. Now I am back in the office and writing chapter 17 of my novel, and I allow Oliver to roam freely (but supervised) when I am home.

The writing is coming along well. I can see all of the changes that will need to go into the second draft. As a writer, I know it’s important to keep plugging forward until I have completed the piece, and then I am free to go back and do the second rewrite. I continually fight the urge to go back and edit right now, to start over and make it “right” this time. A little too much self-judgment I would say.

In writing this novel, I can learn from my little green-eyes tabbies; they are always in the moment, live from their deepest intuitions and make constant forward movement. If I stick to their three principles, I cannot go wrong.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Dream...

I have often wondered what it would be like to be a full-time writer. In my dream, I already have it all worked out. The alarm would go off around 6:15 each morning, as it has been doing for several years now. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I would jump out of bed and take my 3.5 mile run, just as I do now. Nothing would change on Tuesday and Thursday either; I would hit that snooze button and sleep in until 6:50. Of course, before I run or hit the snooze button, my cat, Buddy, would demand his precious Science Diet, just like he does now!

After getting ready for my day- breakfast, coffee, etc.- I would go straight to my office at the end of the hall and sit down at the laptop and write for the next four hours. Sure, I would take breaks, just as I do at my job as a full-time paralegal, where I also spend a good day of my job on legal writing. Just as I do at my work now, I might even take a moment to make small talk with someone or get a Mocha from the coffee shop own the street. However, my focus would be on getting those words out of my head onto paper, where those characters can breathe new life and become more real.

I would spend anywhere from two to four hours each afernoon on research. As any writer knows, getting the facts correct, even in fiction, is essential. Recently, I had the honor of hearing Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest and Windfalls, speak on the importance of setting and learning every detail down to the names of the bushes and the types of trees. I couldn’t agree more.

For example, if I am writing a story set in Cape Ann, I need to know every detail about the setting, culture, type of people, indigenous speech/sayings. Even though Don and I visited Cape Ann for one week last fall, I know that experience would not be enough to make the story realistic. I would need to ask questions of people who live there, as well as conduct book and online research.

As a part-time freelance writer with a few publications under her belt, every weekday I set aside at least one hour per day, and sometimes more, to write my novel. I do research after I have written an hour, or on my lunch break at work, or sometimes when I need a detail while writing. On the weekends, I can get anywhere from one hour to three or four hours writing time in. The way I see it, my discipline now is the foundation of becoming a full time writer in the future.

I can’t wait to be creating stories full-time….

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...