Monday, April 4, 2011

How Writing is Like Spending Eight+ Hours Trying to Rescue Your Cat from Underneath Your House

Mika, who knows how to work the camera

Any morning that starts with me waking to the sound of my wife calling our cats from outside our bedroom window -- a window that looks out onto the unfenced front and side yards -- has all the makings of a bad day.

Yesterday was supposed to be made up of running some errands a walk through our local park and a final read-through of THE BOOK before sending the latest round of edits off.  Instead, someone (points fingers at The Boy) left the protective barriers down at the back gate and two of the cats got out.  Soren, our orange cat, surprised us by quickly corralling himself at our back gate (unlike a few weeks previously when we spent over an hour trying to coax him out of the neighbor's yard).  That left Mika, our Maine Coon Cat.

Mika, from what we gathered at the SPCA, was bred by someone trying to raise miniature Coon cats.  Mika was considered too big for her breeding purposes and was dumped at the SPCA.  He had been in a cage for most of his life and it took him about a week in our  house before he adjusted.

We figured he'd want to come back inside.

Instead, he wandered down the neighbor's side of our back yard fence, then freaked out and ran faster than I would have ever thought possible, back up the fence line.  He rounded the front of our house, and then doubled-back and...disappeared.  Being a fairly substantial cat, disappearing wasn't at all expected.  That there wasn't anywhere for him to disappear to, made it worse.

Then my wife pointed to a small gap between the heater and the wall where it was just possible for him to dash into.  That would put him somewhere underneath the house, in the crawl space crowded with pipes, wires, duct work and enough spider webs to, well, do whatever you'd do with that many spider webs.

One flashlight later, I opened the crawl space door and leaned in.  A pair of eyes shone back at me.  However, in his freakout state of mind he still wasn't coming to either of us.  Then, while trying to keep an eye on him, he disappeared again.  The only place he had available to disappear into was the duct work (don't ask) and, sure enough, that's where I finally found him -- about six feet into the duct.  He looked at me very pleasantly, but he certainly wasn't going anywhere.

We considered leaving him alone and letting him come out on his own, but there was always the chance of him going into one of the more narrow side ducts and getting stuck.  Were we willing to risk doing nothing only to possibly see the situation get worse?

No, we weren't.  Frustrated and scared, Bonn tried banging on the ducts, hoping to scare him out.  Which only drove him further into the ducts to the point where I couldn't see him any longer.  Eventually, Mika cried out inside the ducts.  Fearing he might be trapped, I crawled to the far back, under the house, to get to where I thought I had heard his cry.  Screwdriver and hammer in hand, I rolled into yet another awkward position and found that it is possible to separate side ducts from the main heating duct. (and not cause too much damage!)

Whether it was my banging and cursing or Bonn's calling out to him or who knows what, Mika managed to crawl back out of the ducts and dash out of the crawl space door.  Ten minutes later, Bonn found him on the side porch steps, calmly waiting for her to let him back in the house.

So, how is writing like spending 8+ hours trying to rescue your cat from underneath your house?

It's not.

Writing is comprised of reading, writing, reading critically, revising, writing, revising writing, revising and writing.

Trying to rescue your cat from underneath your house is dirty, sweaty work filled with gut wrenching panic that someone you love is going to be trapped and potentially die because you can't get to them in time.

Okay, so the title was misleading.  I mean, sure, you can draw your own analogies to link the two, but keeping all things in perspective, there's a huge difference between the two things for me.

You know?

-- Tom