Writing With Pets = Imagination Insurance

I write full time at home with five cats who provide me with companionship and imagination insurance. I’ll discuss that in brief after a round of feline introductions. Meet my feline overlords:

‘Belle – don’t hate me because I’m beautiful, hate me because you’re not
Meglet – who is a very small animal
Ashbless – poetry in motion…Limerick
Leith – I’m old dammit, show some respect (RIP: Dec 11 2009)
Jordan – I used to be a cute kitten, now I’m a big thug
So, how is this a writing post?

Well, because pets and writers seem to go together like fire and smoke or some other equally trite pairing. Part of this is of course due to us human types being social apes. We’re wired for group interactions and pets provide people who work in solitude with the illusion of having coworkers, or a pack if you prefer.

That’s a part of it, but not the most important part, at least not for writers. For us they provide imagination insurance. What’s that you ask? Well, pretty much by definition fiction writers are endowed with overactive imaginations.

We are prone to wild flights of fancy, especially those of us who are speculative fiction types. In shadows we see ghouls and imps. Dragons hide in our garages, and trolls demand tolls when we take the laundry to the basement.

This is by and large a wonderful way to live. Except, of course, when it’s not. Like when the house settles with a horrible screech at three a.m. or when the bats start crawling about in the walls just after sundown. At those times, it’s all too easy to people the shadows with things of malign intent.

That’s where the cats come in. With five, there’s always at least one who’s out of sight somewhere. In a house with cats you don’t need to imagine what’s making that noise. You know. Any horrendous sound anywhere in the house, no matter how horrible or loud, was made by a cat. No trolls. No dragons. No axe-wielding maniacs. Just cute fuzzy creatures who can be safely ignored while you finish that paragraph.

(Originally published on SFNovelists,  March 11 2008, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)