Butt in Chair, Pen to Paper

There aren’t a lot of articles out there on how to get back into the swing of writing after the loss of a pet. Personally, I haven’t found any. Hence the left foot right foot approach of putting butt in chair, and pen on paper. I work best in longhand. I always have. Still, there are times when it’s going through the motions. Writers and cats have a special connection, and Skye was, and is, my mews forever. At some point in the next couple of weeks, we will brig her ashes home. When we move, in time, to a pet-friendly apartment, we will add a new cat, or cats, to our family. They will be their own creatures, and I can’t say, before getting to know them, whoever they are, whether or not they will agree to blog for me. I have no earthly idea what Friday’s blog is going to look like, and I am okay with that. Maybe it will take a break for the week. I don’t know yet.

Last night, I had my weekly Skype session with Melva, to talk about Chasing Prince Charming‘s adventures in submission (we racked up a really good “no,” this week, so I count that as good) and where we are going next with its companion book, Drama King.  I have a rough scene to smooth out, as soon as the immediate fam sorts out a domestic tornado, and, after I get Melva’s next scene, I get to rough out the scene that comes after that. Those whom I have tasked with needling me about Her Last First Kiss, you are doing a splendid job. That kind of thing works well with me.

For the first couple of days after Skye passed, I didn’t have any energy to do anything but cry, or stare at the bleak, cat-less future. Losing a pet sucks, no question about it. I found myself scrolling mindlessly through the internet. Cat videos have been extremely calming, and looking through all of Skye’s photos also helps. I have spent more time than I would care to admit, scrolling through ranked lists that pertain to a daytime drama I followed avidly in high school and college, but haven’t watched even one episode, since. The teenagers I remember are the parents now, and there may even be a grandparent or two; I haven’t looked. There are some things I do not need to know, especially when I am emotionally vulnerable.

Other things, though, have risen to the surface. Over the past weekend, I had a lot of time to myself. Housemate made a trip to Camp Grandma, Real Life Romance Hero was at work, and I gave myself assignments with a stack of new art supplies. I put pens in a new pen case. Playing with pens is always a sure soothing method, which, for a writer, is also one that is readily at hand.

I read some. Not a lot. Some, though, and there were, in fact, more reading-related activities. I’d been following the worksheets N and I are using to connect ourselves to the projects it’s high time we get out there, when I heard about Skye. Things had been going pretty darned well, actually, and then, in an instant, BOOM. Life will do that to a person.

Melva, also, recently lost a pet, and, in our weekly chat, we tossed around the idea of our two cats on the other side of Rainbow Bridge, plotting something together. Could happen. Who’s to say? We commiserated, gave each other a little more time, and made plans to move ahead.

Which is why this disjointed entry is up here. Melva and I talked about how we need to take our own advice, on writing when dealing with real life plot twists. Adjust expectations. Do what you can, when you can, and, maybe most importantly, remember why you’re doing it.

Those of us writing for publication would like to see a royalty check, sure, but I’m talking now more about capturing that initial spark, the one that turned “I wish I could do this” into “of course I can do this.”  As is often the case, thoughts became more clear when I sat myself down with pen and paper, and let the whole matter leak out onto the page.

Back when I was but a wee princess of eleven, I stole my mother’s copy of a seminal historical romance novel from her nightstand, and scurried to my hidey-hole under the big brass bed in the guest bedroom. My mom followed the flashlight beam, but too late. In the first few pages, while the heroine was still an even wee-er (more wee?) princess herself, I was sold. I’d found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life.

Big, thick, epic historical romance, that spans miles (sometimes continents) and years (sometimes decades) and drags both hero and heroine through one heck of a lot of trouble, before the triumph of their HEA…that’s my jam. I want to inhale that now, like oxygen. It won’t fill the Skye-shaped hole. I’ll have to heal around that one, and, when new felines come, they won’t fill it either, but make their own places, on their own terms.

There is still grieving. Other cat people understand that. There is also the steady, inexorable need to make story. Writer people get that. Sometimes the two things happen at the same time, and sometimes, they take turns. I am not in control of how they work that out. The only thing I can control is butt in the chair, and pen to paper. It can’t always be gold, but it can always be. That’s good enough.

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