Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Petards, hoisting and other painful realities.

My friend Moe (short for Maureen, but not to be confused with our Maureen here at DWT although, trust me, Ms. Moe can bend her elbow with the best of them) has had a couple of seriously neurotic cats. There was Halley who was having a love affair with her arm. If she'd been out of town for a few days, he would not leave her alone until she would put on a wool sweater and allow him to spend some quality time with her arm. It was seriously unseemly.

Now she has Puck who curls up behind her while she's sleeping and nurses on her neck right where her hairline starts.

I used to laugh at her for having such neurotic maladjusted pets. I was a little smug about my normal happy healthy cats. Then my cat, Shadow, began to self-mutilate. I don't know how else to describe it. He scratched a hole in his back so deep that the hair still hasn't grown back three years later. The vet diagnosed him with idiopathic feline ulcerative dermatosis. Translated into English that means that my cat was clawing the hell out of his back for no apparent reason.

I had been hoisted by my own petard. I'd been smug about my well-adjusted pets (and, by extension, my superior pet parenting) and the Universe decided, as it often does, to give me a smack.

So now that my OTHER cat, Snowy (can you guess which of my cats is white and which is black?), has begun doing the same thing. I was reflecting on my sin of pet parenting hubris and realized that this is exactly what I need to do to my characters! No, not scratch the hair off their back! Hoist them by their own petards, pull the rug out from under them, take whatever they feel most confident in and have it fall apart on them! Awesome!

I wish I could say that no animals were harmed in the course of this epiphany, but I'm afraid poor Snowy is still pretty sad.


Virginia Kantra said...

Good insight, Eileen!

I don't do character interviews (the pre-writing "What is your favorite color/first crush/greatest fear?" thing), but I do love to take a hero's strength or a heroine's pride and skewer it.

At the moment I'm doing it to a Good Mommy Control Freak. It's very painful for both of us. Probably because I am a Good Mommy Control Freak myself, but that's another post.

Eileen said...

Ha! I knew it was good idea! If you do it, Virginia, it must help make a fabulous book.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Eileen.

And I'm entering my guess into the game. Snowy is the black one, right?

(Of course, I'm the one who wanted to call my parents' toy poodle Fang, back in the day.)

Hi, Virginia. **Maureen frantically waves** Nice to see you here. :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, not frantically, enthusiastically. Frantic was reflecting my current mood.

Eileen said...

I get a little frantic around Virginia, too. It's always just so much fun to see her!

And you're wrong about the cats. My kids weren't into irony back then.

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