Writing Companions

Writing is a lonely business. You sit with your computer (and your email, facebook, twitter, myspace, cell phone . . . so it’s less lonely than if you just had your typewriter, but go with me on this). Okay, so you sit with your computer and your coffee/tea and you write. And you get lonely. Or some writers do. But not if you have pets. Now many writers have cats who feel obligated to lay across the keyboard while you try to write, forcing you to take a break. Some will play with your feet, snuggle in your lap, across your shoulders, on top of your head–whatever they feel like really and if you try to stop them, then you will pay the price.

I don’t have cats. I have dogs. One of which also lays across my keyboard, across my arms and in my lap, whenever he gets the chance. They both lay on my feet, under my chair, behind my chair, and pretty much keep an eye on me in case I should do something revolutionary like move. They follow me to the bathroom, the kitchen and wherever else I might chance to go and frequently attack my feet as I go up and down the stairs, no doubt trying to make me fall so that they can lick my face without the annoying distraction of me pushing them away.

I am finding that I write better with dogs than without. It makes me feel less insane when I talk out loud and they are there than if I talk out loud and no one is. They keep bits of me warm when it’s frigid in my office (I’m in MT, it’s frequently frigid). They remind me to get up and to eat and to walk them. They remind me that I desperately need to pet them, and that I have a secret need to feed them treats. They remind me that I probably need a nap and that I might want to get down on the floor. They remind me that occasionally I should look away from the computer and do fun things. Like pet them.

What about you? What do your pets do for your writing life?

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  1. 1. Adele

    Well, one of my cats persists in trying to either get involved in or prevent my posting reviews by standing on my laptop. Otherwise if I am reading she quietly lies on my lap and allows me to comment to her as I read in a way my husband has no tolerance for. so pets make good reading companions too.

  2. 2. BJ Muntain

    Holy crap. You just described my life.

  3. 3. Mindy Klasky

    I love my two cats, but I’m actually thinking of banning them from my writing office. The tiny four-pounder can settle on my lap, and she’s mastered resting her chin on my right forearm (and I’ve mastered mouse-work with my left hand) so that we can write in unison. The seven-pounder, though, insists on being draped across that same right forearm (after a feline struggle for supremacy). The weight is aggravating my tendonitis.

    As for talking to myself while I write? Well, I let my imaginary pets make me feel more comfortable with that :-)

  4. 4. margaret y.

    I used to have a dog that followed me from room to room. I called her my groupie. It was nice to have at least one fan.

  5. 5. Alma Alexander

    I occasionally have the resident cat on the back of my computer chair (there’s always ONE, sometimes they change without telling me about it and I get startled by finding ONE cat there when I’m done with an intense scene when I was perfectly certain I had started the scene with the OTHER cat in residence, as it were) notice a specimen of passing wildlife and actually bat me on the head with a paw – “momma, there’s a CHIPMUNK, DO something!”

    Boboko likes to curl up in my lap under this huge ancient old sweater I wear when it’s cold and he’s been known to go completely and utterly hibernatory under there – I need to prod him four times before he’ll blink himself awake and come back to the world of the living.

    But neither have tried the draping-across-the-arms stuff. I wouldn’t stand for that. They’d be dumped on the ground, forthwith…

  6. 6. Merry

    I have three border collies and a cat; I do a lot of work propped up on my bed and tend to be surrounded by sleeping animals who enjoy the fact that they have a stationary human leg for a pillow! If I’m working at the desk though, I have to fight the cat off the keyboard as she has a habit of walking all over it.

  7. 7. Elias McClellan

    I’m the stoic, anti-social, Abby-normal writer, (yeah, I know, who isn’t) and I loathe (spelling?) my companion Sneaky D. Katt.

    When I’m near violence ’cause they actually expected me to work at the day job and I wasn’t able to get any writing done, he insists on reclining on the desk and occasionally bats at the mouse, just for fun. When I’m ready to pull my hair out over the conflicting feed-back from my writer’s group, he demands that I raise the blind that he may sit in the sill and look out the window. When he’s closed the door that we may confer in private and the Mrs comes home, he rages until I open the door and greet my wife.

    In short, he reminds me of all the reasons I write. To play, to observe the world from a different perspective, and to engage/interact with other people. The sanity check that doesn’t bounce is a fringe benefit. L-O-V-E, that’s the spelling I was looking for.

  8. 8. NewGuyDave

    I have baristas. They’re easier to train, make me tea, and when I have to go away for the weekend or holiday, I don’t have to find a sitter.

    They don’t sit in my lap or lick my face because if they did I’d probably punch them. Our relationship is simple.

    Most of them like me, except the ones who don’t. Unfortunately, the Starbucks manager is a jerk and keeps driving off all the friendly ones, replacing them with cold, fake people who only smile when they’re taking your money.

    Bastards.

    Maybe I should get a dog.

    –Dave

  9. 9. Gargantua

    I have five dogs. They are all ankle-biters, but five is still a huge number! I find that watching them interact with each other and people can sometimes provide inspiration for my writing. When I get bored, I can give a quirk to one of my characters inspired by the shenanigans of my four-legged friends. And they do help keep my feet warm. :)

  10. 10. Lua

    I have 2 dogs and they are a huge part of my writing ritual!:) Every morning, when I sit down to write, they lie beneath my feet and I definitely write better when I have my dogs around.
    I actually named my second dog Apple, as a dedication to the fruit that initiated the very first story:)

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Author Information

Diana Pharaoh Francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis has written the fantasy novel trilogy that includes Path of Fate, Path of Honor and Path of Blood. Path of Fate was nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award. Recently released was The Turning Tide, third in her Crosspointe Chronicles series (look also for The Cipher and The Black Ship). In October 2009, look for Bitter Night, a contemporary fantasy. Diana teaches in the English Department at the University of Montana Western, and is an avid lover of all things chocolate. Visit site.

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