The Saga Of Cat

This is the saga of The Cat; who was Possum, became Henry, then The Cat, returned to Henry, and at last became Possum once again.

It was The Husband’s idea to get a cat. It was a sudden brain fever, I thought. I assumed it would wear off. I quite like being a writer without a cat: I struggle hard to avoid the worst cliches in my writing, and I see no reason why I should succumb to them in real life. Besides which, I’m mildly allergic to cats. Well, allergic to most animals, actually, when they live exclusively in the house.

The fever didn’t wear off. In fact, it burned brighter and brighter- and The Husband wore me down. He was so enthusiastic and pleading and persistent. I found myself agreeing to find him a cat plus accoutrements, thus making myself the stereotypical Writer With Cat. A friend of mine had recently been trying to get rid of some kittens she’d been ‘gifted’ by her affectionate cat, and my sister suggested that she might still be trying to give away the last few kittens. They wouldn’t be more than a couple months old, thus making them still technically kittens, but being a few months old would mean they were litter-trained. I questioned said friend, found that they were still trying to give away the last three kittens, that they were willing to give one to me, and that they were litter-trained, dog-friendly (I have one small dog) and extremely affectionate. They did not eat furniture. They did not run away. They came when called. They preferred cheap dog food! I was eager to have one of these paragons.

The Friend sent photos, which I duly showed to The Husband. He pointed to the last one and said without hesitation: “That one. Get that one. He’s so beautiful! I will call him Henry.”

Fast-forward to the next day. Turns out that paragon kitty is called Possum, and is Friend’s favourite. She expresses hesitation in passing him on, though her children seem glad that it will be Possum to go. I’m disappointed, since The Husband isn’t remotely interested in the other two cats, but assure the Friend that all is well, and that I’ll be able to find Hubby a cat elsewhere if she really doesn’t want to part with Possum. She ums and ahs, and shows me all the cats again. A very long time later, after repeated assurances that I can easily find another kitten for The Husband if it’s at all inconvenient to them all to lose Possum, Possum has been pressed upon me and a sum of money pressed upon them, since I don’t like feeling indebted. The children are excited. The Friend asks if she and the children can come and visit Possum in a few days to assure themselves that he’s getting along okay.

At home, Possum has become Henry, and The Husband seems quite pleased with him. I am finding that, in addition to being a little more allergic to cats than I thought I was, I am decidedly not a cat person. I hate the meeping noises he makes at me for no reason. I hate the way he’s always underfoot. I hate the evil little glare he shoots at me just before he buries his claws in my leg. A sign of affection, apparently. It turns out that I can’t go anywhere without him following me, and that if I shut myself in a room from sheer desperation, he will sit at the door and meep in distress until I come out again. I can’t even go to the toilet in peace, because Henry the cat knows how to open the sliding door to the ensuite! I’m woken in the middle of the night several times by Henry deciding that he must sit on my head, or shove his nose into mine, or lick my ear. At two in the morning I find myself sobbing hysterically: “I don’t like you! Leave me alone!” as I push Henry off my face for the twentieth time. The Husband awakes to find me crying, after having shut The Cat out of the bedroom, and considerately consents to cuddle me until the tears are gone.

He’s a little miffed: he wants Henry to stay, despite the gouges in his shoulder from The Cat using his shoulder as a launch-pad a little earlier. He says he would like to give The Cat a decent trial- at least until The Friend comes around to see us: and then if I really can’t bear it, we’ll give him back. I agree, but Henry has temporarily become The Cat to me.

The next day, The Cat becomes Henry again. He still gives me headaches, but he gets on well with The Dog, and The Husband is very fond of him. I have been trying to get over my new but extreme dislike of having a cat as pet, and partially succeeding. Then I get a call from The Friend, who has called, it seems, for the sole purpose of telling me tearfully that the children have been crying all day and that they all miss Possum. The other cats have changed. They’re not the same without Possum. Over the next few days there are more calls and texts, each one building the guilt I feel, until between the guilt and the allergies, I’m feeling that I’ve made the single worst decision of my life.

At last I tell The Husband that I think we’ll just have to give Henry back. Greatly to my relief, he agrees. It turns out that a cat was more work than he remembered it being from his childhood, and Henry hasn’t entirely endeared himself to The Husband, who has more scratches than fond memories by now. My headache is entering its fourth day of non-stop misery, and I can’t wait until The Friend comes to take Henry away.

I’m really quite fond of Possum. Now that he’s someone else’s cat again, I feel free to pat him and think he’s quite sweet really. But it turns out that I am not a cat person. Guys, does that mean I can’t be a writer? I’m still part of the club, right? Guys?

cat eyes

Butt In Chair . . .

You know what you want to write. You know where the story goes. You’ve got a handle on the dialogue, and the ending is well within grasp. And yet, the thing just doesn’t get written. Why?

Well, if you’re me, it’s because you type a few words, or sentences, or paragraphs (if you’re really dedicated) and then get distracted. Or reward yourself with some internets, or a bit of tv. Or you have a blog that’s good for whiling away an hour or two because you’ve got to write that new blog post. In this day of distractions, there’s always something at your fingertips to take your mind off what you should be doing.

My problem is that I lack discipline. There are those days where everything seems to flow, and on those days I can sit and write for six or seven hours. Those days I mostly forget to eat, and only get up to go to the toilet when the need becomes so pressing that I can no longer ignore it. Then there are the days that, despite knowing where the story’s going, I can’t seem to settle and write. It’s just too hard. I’ll put something on the telly ‘for background’ and end up writing maybe 500 words after hours sitting in front of a tv show I wasn’t even really interested in. Worst (and kinda best) of all are the days where my brain is working furiously on Plot and Movement and Idea; and I can spend literally hours daydreaming the suddenly perfectly clear plot-line I want to outline. Character flaws become clear, tiny details and mistakes pop out at me, and I seem to know exactly how and where to build all the necessary little foreshadowing details. Of all my distractions, this is the one I love the most. Probably because it is, in a way, part of my process. It’s an allowable kind of daydreaming. It’s useful. It serves a purpose. But all the same, not much gets written on those days.

So how do you beat the malaise? How do you push past the disinclination and distraction and flat-out laziness? Really, it depends on who you are. When it comes right down to it, I’ve found that the best thing for me is to have a deadline. That’s why I announced the publication date of A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend before it was quite finished. It forces me to put my butt in the chair and just write. To sit there and type until it’s done. I’ve still got two short stories to write to finish up the collection, and a bit of formatting to do, but by and large, I’m on track.

Having a deadline is healthy for me. It may not be helpful to you, however. Every writer is different. But when it comes to writing, the one thing that is true for all of us is that distractions- well, distract. The most effective way to get your story written is to put your butt in the chair, and write. Turn off the tv. Avoid the internet. Write. Don’t worry if it’s rubbish. That’s how we learn and grow. Just write.

Write.

Getting An ITIN

Well, I’ve been gathering together all the paperwork for my ITIN application. For those who don’t know what an ITIN is, the acronym stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and it will mean that I only have to pay 5% tax in the US instead of 30%. A moot point, you may say, since I have not in fact sold any books yet. I counter by declaring that I haven’t published any books yet, so yah boo. (As a matter of fact, I have a short story on Kindle at the moment, but I don’t count that because I like to set it as free, and I can’t really claim ‘sales’ for that.)

I’m choosing to Indie-Publish my first book with Kindle, Kobo, the iBookstore, and perhaps in time CreateSpace, with a publication date of October 1st. Naturally, I wanted to make sure that I had the ITIN before then. Because, yanno- more money. I’m beginning to doubt it’ll be done quite by then (though I think it’ll be close) since I hadn’t really considered how long it takes to research the how to, get a passport notorized, find and download the appropriate forms, fill them in correctly . . .

You get the idea. Admittedly, half the time has been due to sheer laziness and the idea that ‘Oh, I’ve filled out the form. That’s enough for today. I’ll rest until next week.’

Now, at length, I have my apostille’d passport. I have my W-7 form, filled out in blue ink. I have my letter from Amazon. I even know where to send it all, and I know better than to send it express post with signature required. I think I’m about ready to go. Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you want to read a really good blog post on how to obtain an ITIN in Australia, read MummyK‘s account. There are others, but this one was really helpful to me.