Photo from Dreamstime
This week, I drugged my cat.
No, not with anything illegal, and not without the enthusiastic agreement of my veterinarian.
You see, he hates his vet with a fiery passion that has led to the drawing of some blood from an unfortunate vet tech and the near injury of some of the rest of us. He wasn’t always like this, but one year he decided that he didn’t like the way that his vet smelled and annual visits have been difficult for us all ever since. Unfortunately, he has one of those coming up.
This year we’re trying a sedative to ease him through the visit (hopefully it will all be a beautiful dream). Like a responsible pet owner I tried the sedative out in advance of the visit. I naively thought that it would work, but it turned out that it didn’t calm my cat so much as it made him manically snugly and kept him (and thus us) up all night crying. Last night I tried a different combination the vet prescribed, which seemed to work a lot better.
But what does all of this have to do with writing?
I’m glad you asked, because it’s quite simple. Tuesday night, when my poor boy was wandering the house crying and couldn’t settle, he kept us all up with his woe. And really, isn’t that what characters do? Keep nagging us about everything that’s wrong in their lives until we just sit down and solve their problems for us.
At least my characters do that. Your mileage may vary.
I didn’t want to drug my cat, and I’ve tried every other option before getting to this point. That’s similar to writing too: sometimes we all have to do things that we don’t want to do. I don’t want to kill characters, or torture them, or hurt them, or really put them in any bad situations at all! I like my characters, in a way that I can only hope the reader will too. But it’s for the growth of the character and ultimately the good of the story, so I must sometimes do things to my wonderful characters that I hate doing.
I suppose that’s part of what being a writer is all about: listening to the story and helping it unfold in the way that it wants to be. And I guess sometimes that’s easy and other days it keeps us up all night and leaves us surviving off coffee for the rest of the day.
When was the last time something kept you up all night?