Elvis, cats, and why characters need to hurt the ones they love or everything I've learned about writing I've learned from my cat

I like to think that Sprite, my rescue cat (you met her in her You Tube debut video Sprite Doesn't Like Rejection), lived with coyotes before I rescued her from the shelter. That would at least explain her aggressive behaviour. The first six months she calmed down about 600%, but I was constantly covered in scratches. I used to say that I was in an abusive relationship with my cat; she loved me too much. She wasn’t trying to hurt me; one moment I’d be petting her and the next she’d go for my jugular just to get closer to me. Every night at about four a.m. she would attack me. She’d pounce on my hands and scratch and bite me until I woke up. Hiding my hands deep under the covers resulted in a paw, with claws attached, landing on my face. That’s when she’d get kicked out of the bedroom. I can hear what you are thinking: why not just close the door and not let her in? I was trying to socialize her.

Then it finally happened. One night at four a.m. I felt a soft paw touch my cheek. No claws. No attempt to scratch and bite at my shoulders or arms under the covers. She laid across my shoulder and neck, and purred. She’d finally learned to love me without hurting me, I thought in that half conscious state between being awake and dreaming. I also had a dream that I was splitting a jelly donut with Elvis when I ran into him at his favourite coffee shop (he still owes me five bucks but that’s another blog post).

The more cynical among you will think that Sprite was trying to depress my windpipe to the point of me wondering - where was my baptismal certificate that I was supposed to present to St. Peter at the pearly gates?

Still in that half sleep/wake state I thought - while it’s great that my cat has learned to love me without hurting me – you'd better hope that your characters don’t. There needs to be tension and conflict even between characters that like, and love, each other. And if you see Elvis, tell him he owes me five bucks.

Comments

Angie said…
Great post! You are so right about the characters.
Sprite is my kind of cat. We have five rescued cats at home now. And they all have their little adjustment problems. Some more tan others.

Jeff