The effect of a cat on motivation and routine

<alt img="Controlling Cat"/>

If deciding at the last minute to take on a reasonable facsimile of NaNoWriMo was to serve a purpose, it has only taken two days to realize it. Before I was out of bed this morning, mind habitually processing what the day would entail, I recognized the spark of emotion related to motivation. An excuse to ignore everything and with coffee in hand, park myself in front of my Mac. This had to be a good thing.

But something happened on the way to the kitchen. My cat happened. This is not unusual. In fact, it’s routine. Her morning greeting is urgent and gains volume as I approach the front door. She wants out, and it never seems to matter that my husband has been up and about, and has already let her out. She always returns for the ceremonial exercise that only she and I engage in.

I open the door and she grumbles as she passes over the threshold, stopping just before she’s completely outside. I wait, she looks at me, grumbles once more before leaning her posterior against the door. I decide I’ll wait until the third or fourth time we’ve completed the round to go out onto the porch and scratch the furry belly wantonly displayed for just that purpose. Priorities. I need to make coffee.

Once the Bialetti is on, I fill the dishwasher, rinse the sinks, prepare a large bowl of cold, sudsy water for quick wash ups during the day, and assess the rest of the kitchen. It’s good enough to give the impression it’s clean, but more importantly, won’t distract me from the day’s mission: writing.

Before the coffee begins to well up in the moka pot, I can hear the cat scratching at the front door. She’ll want in, I’ll have a cat food can in hand, ask her if she’d like to eat and pop the lid to get her attention.

It works every time. She stands as close to the threshold as possible without actually touching it, licking her lips, yelling simultaneously. I know I’ll have to go out onto the porch, and nudge her inside before the game is over. She will be satisfied for a time knowing her food is where it should be, in her bowl. All will be well in her world.

Coffee now burnt, I tell myself more milk will help, though I know it won’t. That spark of motivation felt earlier has now turned to an annoyance. I recall how long I worked on the piece I wrote yesterday, fiddling with photos, making attempts to write something meaningful when what I set out to do was just write.

Something occurrs to me. If I was going to spend the better part of a day fussing over a blog post, why wouldn’t I spend that time organizing manuscript revisions? Why, indeed.

November stretches ahead in my mind, its interruptions now in full focus. Thanksgiving aside, I have a trip booked immediately following and will be gone for a week. And then there is the “staycation” we thought we were so smart to decide upon which officially begins tomorrow.

I tell myself I’ll have so much to write about.  Stay calm and carry on! And I will. But it has only taken two days to remind myself of a lesson I seem never to learn. I don’t have to commit to an event to engage in an activity, or to change a behavior. To take on a new interest, or rekindle motivation in those once beloved. There isn’t a magic date on a calendar, a finish line, a set of guidelines or rules.

There is just me, and whatever it is I set out to do. I have to decide whether that matters or not. The problems is, far too many things matter.

My coffee is now cold, and the cat is sitting just at my office door, yelling. When I get up to reheat my coffee, she will scurry down the stairs ahead of me, grumbling all the way out the back door where I will be expected to give her a morning brushing, and then find tender shoots of grass for her to chew on.

Routine is what we make of it — or what it makes of us.

Day 3, check.

NaNoWriMo minus the novel


Whenever November 1st comes around, I think of NaNoWriMo. You may think it odd, but once committed to a month of writing nearly 1800 words each day, expecting to complete a novel, you remember. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s National November Writing Month. The goal in participating is that participants complete a novel in 30 days.

I’m not writing a novel this time, but I’ve spent the better part of the last three years working on one I began the last time I participated. I’ve fallen out of practice writing casually, so I’m hoping that if I commit to 30 days of writing for the sake of writing, I’ll find my rhythm once more.

I’ll write. I’ll sit down, make the commitment, and write. If I’m organized, then I’ll have a plan about what to write. If not, then I’ll fit into the “by the seat of my pants” category. That’s not an awful place to be until it’s time to revise and then “nightmare” is a more fitting description of the predicament I’ll find myself in. Still, I believe strongly in simply putting words to page. The exercise is always interesting, and often helps uncover ideas that otherwise may remain buried. Ideas that may or may not want surface area attention. Like disturbing current day events.

Times are distracting, and it’s difficult to avoid the lure of angry opinions, or baiting from people once cared for who seem no longer to have anything in common with me. Disturbing, indeed.

Yet there is much to divert because life is diverting on most days if I allow it. It includes what’s “over the wall,” when one’s home seems to be planted on a postage stamp, and the Suburbiana it’s a part of. It includes people watching and listening, caring or no longer caring. Learning. Aging. Existing in places long outgrown, or never belonged to begin with.

NaNoWriMo is a perfect outlet. If you’re interested, and even if you’re not, I’ll write here every other day beginning today, alternating with sass & veracity, my alter ego. Food may or may not be involved. Travel may.

And for what it’s worth, beyond this haphazard post, I plan to be thoughtful.

Promises, promises.

Day One.





Thinking about Process


I haven’t been writing anything, anywhere. And it isn’t because I’m not motivated, I tell myself, smirking as I think it each time I see my notebooks stacked just to the left of my keyboard. It’s the photos of our recent trip I’ve been working through, trying to learn new Photoshop techniques to make them stand out in some way, worthy of what I remember seeing when my eye wasn’t peering through the viewfinder of my camera.

Continue reading “Thinking about Process”

What was I thinking? Round Two.

Last year as response to a request from a friend, I committed myself to 30 days of writing my first novel during National November Writing Month, lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo.  Fifty-thousand words written in 30 days qualifies anyone as a winner and outside of being diligent enough to actually write those words, the resulting manuscript file must also be uploaded to qualify your effort.

Check to all of the above and I was a certified winner last year.  I wrote my 50,000+ words with only a few hitches in my giddy up:  we visited our son in San Francisco for Thanksgiving and were stuck there for two additional nights due to heavy fog up and down the coast.  We love San Francisco and visit frequently, but this was not one of our best travel memories.  Nevertheless, I did write during our delay, then after arriving home, pounded out the rest of the required word count.

Of course I wasn’t finished.

Continue reading “What was I thinking? Round Two.”

What routine?

A year ago January, I made a commitment to lose 50 lbs.  After five months of diligent progress, I successfully achieved a 25 lb. loss and was perfectly on schedule to make my goal, still 25 lbs. away.  But here I sit, probably 15 lbs. heavier, thinking about that and other aspects of my life which continually present challenges.

Continue reading “What routine?”

Fridays and What Ifs

I missed yesterday’s writing, but it should count that I spent a good amount of time discussing writing with a friend — someone who is also working on his first novel.  And the entire experience left me remembering how much I used to profess that thinking is the most important aspect of writing.  Of course, that doesn’t make much sense if I never actually sit down to write after that thought, so here I am.  Processing.  And I’ll do that through this weekend considering my novel, moving things around, adjusting bits of my character’s life — bits of ideas that only come with letting writing sit for a while.  Letting it sit for as long as I have is probably not a good thing, but that will change in a few days.

Continue reading “Fridays and What Ifs”