You’re stuck in front of a blank page, fingers on keyboard, waiting for the muse to guide and inspire. As writers, we’re a solitary bunch from the get-go; comfortable with being alone. Still, a bout of writer’s block exacerbates a feeling of solitary confinement. Just when you think all hope is lost, a furry friend comes along and nuzzles against your leg or your arm, takes a seat, and looks at you. “Give me some attention,” your friend seems to say, and, when you do, it prevents your mind from swirling down a mental sinkhole. I’ve decided that my guest post today would center around pets.
My furry friend is a white cat named Jasper. He is a constant companion when I write at my desk, and I happily take breaks by petting or playing with him. Because the play is calming, it’s a break that doesn’t detract from the creative process (like watching today’s news) and I can dive “write” back in. With the onset of the pandemic, non-human friends mean even more to us. Here’s what the experts say: “Owning a pet has been observed to reduce blood pressure, loneliness, anxiety, fearfulness and generally to contribute to improved wellbeing.” (Society of Behavioral Economics)
I’m a thriller writer and, while I love my cat, I cannot stay on a “cozy” subject for too long. Let me tell you about my other pets: two snakes. What’s cuddly about a snake, you may ask? Not much. But they’re happy to share the warmth of your body by hanging around your neck or on your arm. I have yet to feature a snake in my books, but it’s not because they haven’t offered me some excitement. Our snake, Violet, actually saved the day for me one time.
My husband and I hosted a BBQ, and there were a lot of people coming in and out of the front door. We had a wood pile near the door, and, sure enough, a giant rat ran into our house right during dinner. You can imagine the pandemonium. I suppose our cat Jasper would have taken care of business at some point when all the guests left (and some wanted to leave right away), but I wanted a more immediate fix. A child of one of the guests tugged at my sleeve and asked, “Laurie, don’t your snakes eat mice?” Curious, I opened the snake enclosure. Apparently, our snake Violet is not shy around people. She slithered right out, took about two minutes to find the rat where it hid, and, in front of all the guests, ate the biggest meal of her life. I’m sure someone reading this feels bad for the rodent, but it took a big risk when it entered a house with a cat and snakes.
At one time, we owned a snake with two heads. We called it Hydra and Medusa. A friend had found it in the wild and called my husband Steven (who I consider somewhat of a snake wrangler). He cared for the snake for a few years until it became too much of a chore to feed it. The heads would battle each other over the food. Steven had to put a big spoon between them while one head ate and the other attacked the spoon. If you don’t think this story is weird enough, wait. One of our kids’ friends told us that Nicholas Cage collected rare reptiles. My husband joked that if the kid could get us an introduction to Mr. Cage, he’d give him one-thousand dollars. Wouldn’t you know it? The twelve-year-old kid got us the introduction. That kid must have really wanted the money. We sold the snake to Nicholas Cage, who in turn, donated it to the New Orleans Zoo, where it resides to this day.
Do your pets inspire your writing or help you relax in some way? Share! Thanks for allowing me to post. Stay safe, and let your furry (or non-furry) friends help you stay sane.