Sometimes Even Writers Need A Break From Writing

For me this is one of those times. I just got a book series proposal out the door along with the rewritten copy of an old trunk novel, but fundamentally there wasn’t a lot of new writing to be done there, maybe 800 words this week since it was all in polish mode. The main reason for this is I just didn’t feel like writing and I didn’t have a deadline to force me to write anyway.

Basically this week I sat home, played video games, and first worried about, then mourned a lovely old cat who has been one of my feline companions for a number of years. Her name was Leith and she wasn’t the first cat I’ve lost but, as it turns out, losing cats gets harder as the years go on rather than easier.

One reason that losing a pet is particularly hard for me, and I suspect for many full time writers, is that I’m home all the time. Day in, day out, I sit in a nice chair at my house and work on a computer. I don’t have coworkers to talk to, though I do use facebook and email to keep up with friends and colleagues, especially those who are also home working during the day. But those are generally time-shifted conversations and they’re also virtual. For up close company while working I rely on my cats.

They’re the friends who get in my face and make me get out of my chair from time to time, the ones who point out the squirrel on the screen, and the listening ears when I rant about a scene not going well or brag about a successful negotiation of a tricky writing problem.

They also act as a sort of placebo against the funny noises that an old house like mine makes. Instead of letting my writer’s imagination run wild when there’s a horrible creak from the depths of the house, I can just say to myself “cat” and not worry about. This is important for someone whose imagination runs to trolls and goblins.

So for today, and probably tomorrow and well into next week I’m not going to write much new fiction and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I’m going to remember a dear old friend and wish I didn’t have to say goodbye.

Ave Leith.

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There are 8 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. Stephanie Burgis

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Taking time out to grieve sounds like a really good idea.

  2. 2. Conrad Rader

    Having recently lost my own cat companion of the last seventeen years, I fully understand where you are. To our cats and the time they give us.

  3. 3. Marie Brennan

    I only have to think about my own beloved Velvet to understand how you feel. Many sympathies.

  4. 4. Elias McClellan

    Me and Sneaky D. Kat both read this and extend our condolences as well as our hopes your morning is restorative.

  5. 5. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks all for the condolences, they are very much appreciated.

  6. 6. David B. Coe

    We had a dog — Buddy the Wonder Dog — for thirteen years. When I was still waiting for word on my very first book contract, I’d have to get out of the house and away from the too-silent phone, so I’d walk Buddy. Later, when I was established, I’d use my walks with Buddy to clear my head, to bounce ideas around, to figure out where my book was going next. He’s been gone for several years now, but there isn’t a day that goes by without me thinking about him, about how much he helped me with my creative process.

    You have my deepest condolences, my friend.

  7. 7. Joe Iriarte


    I’m sorry.

  8. 8. Alma Alexander

    Aaaah. this is always so hard. They take pieces of us when they go, because we have loved them. My most sincere sympathies on your loss, Kelly. May your memories stay bright.

Author Information

Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a fantasy and science fiction author. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series—Penguin/ACE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Writers of the Future and Weird Tales. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star—part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited—funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Visit site.



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