Writing can be solitary work. Even in a crowded household an author spends a lot of time inside his or her own head. It is not fun to watch someone write. The family does not gather round, riveted by your deft keystrokes, shaking their heads in mild disappointment as you hit the backspace key yet again. The act of writing will never be turned into a television show. Probably not.
Still, many writers do have one or more constant companions. Perhaps a cat or dog or boa constrictor abide in silent company with you as you write, curled up on your lap, or nestled right under where you wish to put your feet.
Nothing much else can get through a writer’s wall of concentration. When upon leaving the house, one of your kids says, “Well, I’m off to join a biker gang.” You murmur zombie-like and wave absently in the general direction from which you heard the sound. However, your animal companion knows when you need a break because it coincides perfectly with when they need to be fed or walked. You adapt to this. It becomes ritualistic, a part of your writing experience. As I write these very words my wife’s cat Koko is curled up at my feet as always.
They may distract, divert, amuse, annoy, inspire or abide quietly with you for hours. You can call it whatever you like but it is something, and when you lose it, you lose something. Yesterday my friend and fellow author Annarita Guarnieri lost her beloved cat and long-time writing companion Dharielle. Our hearts go out to her.