It’s December 31st 2016, day zero of the Challenge, my personal, public commitment to write a novel of at least fifty thousand words in January. In this blog I intend to publish a weekly report on my progress. It’s a little bit scary, but I’m determined to do this.
When it’s done, it will be only my second book but in this small experience I’ve come to appreciate the pleasures of writing. My first book (The Obeahman’s Dagger)was an intense personal experience. It changed me in ways that I’m still discovering and as I begin the second I’m already finding myself in a completely new and exciting world. Let me explain.
The working title for this novel is The Unlikely Detective: The Body in the Sauna and the Detective is a young woman who starts out with no interest in police work. She loves animals, especially cats, and is in the habit of talking with her two cats, Doris and Edward. Cats have, in the past, shared my life. They are interesting animals, full of personality. As are all animals, if you’re paying attention. My own cat story goes like this.
I was feeling pretty down about my life that day. Things had not been going well in my marriage and my finances and that morning I was puttering about the house trying to decide what to do next. My daughter’s cat, an animal that she had rescued and brought to me as a days-old kitten, was occupying the sofa, as was her lazy habit. My daughter was about nine or ten years old when she brought the cat to me that day, with tears in her eyes, begging for help with the rescue. We fed that cat with a dropper until it was old enough to lap milk from a saucer. In my depression I sat down heavily next to the cat on the sofa. I sighed, sad and confused. Then that cat did something that is still strongly impressed on my memory.
Without moving from its curled up situation on the sofa, the cat gently stretched a front paw to touch my leg. There was a conscious pressure in the act as she held her paw against my flesh and I had the distinct impression that she was offering comfort and strength and I was comforted. The cat gave me something then that I appreciated. I still cannot explain why I felt the way I did then and I guess that to most people it’ll sound bizarre. For me it remians something that I filed away as one of those things about life that you just know but cannot understand or explain. It just is, undeniably.
So as I begin to research for my character, Mabel the cat-woman, the Unlikely Detective of the story, I’m reading about cats and about the people who love the animals and who actually communicate with them. And I’m entering, again, a fascinating new world. I’ve already encountered a woman, Sonya Fitzpatrick, who claims to be a pet psychic. She has a book, Cat Talk: The Secrets of Communicating with Your Cat, that I’m just now reading.
I haven’t decided yet whether it’s a good book but so far, the writing is pretty good and the whole thing has an air of ‘truthiness’ about it. This is not a plug for the book; I know nothing about the self-described Pet Psychic at this time. But the topic is intriguing and the intrigue is the thing that I’m enjoying as I begin my research. Learning new things is what makes the job of writing a fun and exciting thing to do.
Tomorrow it begins, Day One of the Challenge. I don’t think that I’ll have time for regular blogging but I will post weekly reports on my progress. I’ll try to make those more than just word counts; writing is so much more than producing words. I will try to live up to the ‘confessions’ part of the blog’s stated intent.
Happy New Year to all. I hoping for a better world, for all of us, in 2017.