The Puuuurfect Pet?

Have you ever fallen hopelessly in love with a literary pet and wished they were yours? I have! Countless times! Nearly every one of my favourite books has had a pet character and for me they have been as important to the story as any of their human counterparts. 

During the process of plotting out my novel, I was working on my character line-up and there was something missing. I couldn’t quite figure it out to begin with and then it hit me – She needs a pet! I knew straight away it would have to be a cat. Have I told you all I love cats? To be fair, I’m fairly fond of all kinds of animals, but cats are at the top of the list for me. I have 2 cats of my own and we regularly foster abandoned cats for a local cat rescue organisation, until they can be re-homed. As pets they’re infinitely more independent than your average dog, but anyone who has had a cat will know that their personalities are both unique and immensely amusing.

Being new to this writing game, I’ve been wondering how exactly I should “write” my feline character. Without the possibility of some snappy dialogue, how do I best go about giving my newest pal the personality he deserves? Here’s where being a life-long cat lover comes in handy I guess. In order to make him feel “real” I’ll need to use everything I know about cats – their habits, their likes and dislikes, their quirks and peculiarities. As a writer our job is to evoke emotions and images within the minds of our readers. To do that we must appeal to all their senses and make our pets come alive on the page. Why? Because, at least to my mind, a good pet can add a great deal to a story. Maybe you need some comedic relief to lighten the tension or perhaps you need to show the softer side of your main character. Whatever the reason, having a pet in the day to day scenes of your story may just provide it with that little bit of spice it was missing. 

I know I’ll be having fun adding a little furry fun to my story. And he may not be a big character, but he’ll definitely be one of my favourites. 

When are you at your most creative?

Yesterday I was driving through a slush storm to pick my kids up from school. The temperature was yo-yoing just around freezing and the sky was dark grey, a heavy mass of clouds that couldn’t make up their mind if they wanted to pelt us with rain or bury us in snow. Hence the slush. I drive this route twice a day Monday to Friday and apart from being “slushed” by two passing trucks, the drive yesterday was otherwise uneventful.

What occurred to me though is that those 15 minutes twice a day, are my most productive in terms of writing ideas. I invariably put on a playlist and let my imagination loose. Don’t get me wrong – my attention is on the road! But in the back of my head, little bubbles are rising to the surface of my imagination and I see images or snippets of film and a stream of “what if’s”. I carry a small notebook where I can write these little pearls down – when I get to where I’m headed – and trust me I need to write them down or they get lost in the fog of appointments and meetings and “what’s for dinner”.

But why is it that most of my ideas come to me when driving my car? Why not in dreams? Why not when I’m sat here at my desk actually writing? Why not when I should be concentrating in a meeting or when I’m cooking dinner? I wouldn’t call the scenery along the motorway particularly inspiring….

My theory is that, when I drive on my own, my otherwise busy mind gets to relax and “breathe”. So often I’m surrounded by other people and demands on my attention, that the opportunities to be creative are severely limited. Those short intervals of alone time driving my little electrical car are golden! I could rehash a recent argument, mull over something work related, plan the dinners we’re having next week, but instead I find that I tend to gear down (pun intended) and let my mind wander towards my novel. I guess I’m not the type of person that finds driving particularly stressful – especially not on a route I drive so often – and the possibility of calm, unstressed focus allows my creativity to flow. Add in an amazing playlist I created as a “soundtrack” to my novel and I’m all set! It’s been great in terms of plotting my novel! I nearly always come back from a drive feeling energised and inspired and now that I’m consciously aware of how those moments of alone time boost my creativity – I have a great tool I can utilise when an inevitable bout of writers block hits!

Is it just me? Do any of you experience a boost in creativity when driving your car? Are there other situations or places where you feel your creativity flows better than others? I’d love to hear about it!