• Fran Stewart

Cat's Whiskers

A writer, particularly a mystery writer, has to pick up tiny clues from all around, kind of the way cat whiskers do. The tiniest vibration transmits its way to a cat’s brain, even from far out on the tip of the longest whiskers, giving the cat a clear picture of just where that cat is in its environment.

When I’m immersed in writing, I feel like my whisker messages are coming at me at full speed. Until, all of a sudden, they aren’t.

Like the past two days.

I’d been writing up a storm and then, the way it sometimes happens, life kind of got in the way. As if my virtual whiskers had been shaved off. My total increase in word count for the past two days? Zero.

That’s right. Zero. It’s a little hard to meet a deadline when that happens.

So, what can I do to change this picture?

Well, in the Memoirs class I’m teaching, I talk about prompts — those words or phrases that tickle your memory about something that needs writing.

So, just a few minutes ago I went through the basket I have here beside my computer, pulling out stray scraps of paper. "Square spectacles," one of them says. "Moose fat candles," "strangely unnerved," "Johnny Cakes," "S tells MF to be careful."

Will any of these help get me re-started?

How the heck do I know? But I can feel the whiskers beginning to tickle, so there’s hope. There’s always hope.