Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SOMETHING is alive in my trashcan. My little wire trashcan here in the office where I am trying to draft the next section of my book. The alive something is rustling around and EATING things. It is eating them in a NIBBLEY CHEWY MOUSE way.

I suspect---No. I KNOW I have a hantavirus soaked little mouse not THREE feet from me, happily making a nest out of the umpty-hundred credit card offers I have smashed down in there, getting a high by licking discarded envelopes with its disease-y pink strip of plague-tongue. Mr. Mouse is NO doubt on a raving glue high by now, and should I be so foolish as to try to unearth it and catch it, I have ZERO doubt that it would leap straight at my eye with it clicky little jaws snapping open and shut as if it were a hairy pirhana. You should HEAR how it is sharpening its glistening viral incisors on the papers in there.

DIGRESSION: Yes. I know we have pet gerbils. I put my hand in their aquarium and they climb onto the palm and run up my arm, and yes I have been known to KISS THEM. I kiss them, all three, with my mouth. But gerbils are different; They have long soft furry tails, not a thin pink serpents made of raw chicken-colored flesh. And I KNOW these Gerbils, personally. Alice is hyper and a dreadful sycophant, Cozy Mole Mouse is the zen gerbil who grooms and soothes her, and That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson is unruly and longs for dominance. Tenny CONSTANTLY tries to STAND on Cozy and be the lady-boss. I KNOW them as individuals. This mouse? Could be ANYONE.

The cats, by the way, have been entirely worthless. One assumes the mouse has been down in my office all night, scampering around completely un-molested by anything feline. The only living being (and here I choose LIVING as oppose to SENTIENT quite deliberately) besides my skeeved out self who has been even remotely interested in the rodent-infested trashcan is Bagel, my hound dog.

Bagel, I know from the AN A BUNNIES experience, has all the honed, precise, and savage hunting instincts of your basic plankton. Maybe not even a PLANKTON as I seem to recall some types of those organisms ABSORD other types in a one celled and mildly predatory way. Bagel has…more like the hunting instincts of a Sears brand hoody.

I think this visiting mouse is skeeving me MOSTLY because I am trying to work. His endless rustle and chew is making all the words I wanted to put on paper run out my ears and drip and soak into the carpet. Ironic, because I was JUST over in Macon at a writer’s workshop teaching a class called THE GIRL WHO STOPPED WRITING. It was a play on the title of my newest book, but it wasn’t about the ghosts of little drowned girls seeking justice. It was about a far scarier topic…Writers Block.

My basic stance is this: There is no such thing as writers block. Even if there IS, we do not believe in it. (This is, by the way, the exact same stance I ought to apply to TRASHCAN MICE.) It’s a good stance, because, if you INVEST in believing in blocks, they CAN manifest and burrow through your brain and eat your cerebral cortex. (Again, much like trashcan mice)

I whined to my friend Sara about Mr. Mouse via e-mail (instead of working) and she quite sensibly said, “Take the whole trash can out back and lay it on its side until the rodent is gone. I promise that when you start messing with the trash can the little mouzie will be terrified and stay utterly still until you've gone back inside.”

That paused me. Here’s the thing---I am being all flustered about this, but in my SECRET HEART…I quite like little field mice. They are big headed and black-eyed and darling. I flat ADORE them when they are properly going about their business. IN FIELDS. But now I have one in my house, and he has ceased to be the actual thing he is – a mouse – and has become instead…drama. I am creating a whirling maelstrom of drama around Herr Mauzie. And as long as it continues, I do not have to work.

In the interests of prolonging the not working, I went and I got Schubert, my large one-eyed evil pirate cat, and set him by the trashcan. He evinced all manner of interest. “Yarrrr,” he seemed to be saying with his single, glinting eye. “Here thar be mices.” Then he fell asleep.

I poked at him. No dice. He is down for a power nap, and looking at his beach ball build and considering the wealth of kibble laid before him in the basement, I admit that he cannot POSSIBLY be hungry. His physique is more Jackie Gleason then Captain Jack Sparrow these days. He’s pushing 12, old for a cat, even one who was, in his prime, the scourge of the Caribbean. And honestly? If he had been even SLIGHTLY more interested in the mouse, I would have banned him and looked for a less…final solution. NO ONE wants mouse intestines in the carpet, least of all the mouse who is currently using those intestines to digests bits of my mail.

Then my troubled and swaggery teenager cat, Boggart, wandered into the room, perked his ears at the trashcan noises, and went over. I became alert, ready to step in and both rescue the mouse from becoming mouse-parts and rescue Boggart from the inevitable rabies the mouse’s death-throw-nose-bite would bring. Boggart sniffed, then looked up at me as if to say “You have a mouse in there, you know. You should do something about that,” and wandered back off. THE DOG WENT WITH HIM TO PLAY. I was left in the office with a WAY too blank page open in MS word, a dead asleep Schubert, and a THOROUGHLY UNAUTHORIZED MOUSE.

There was absolutely no way to draw it out any longer. I picked up the trashcan. The rustling ceased. I carried it outside and lay it down on its side, just as Sara had said. It is there even as I type this. Later, after the mouse has vacated, I will go back and retrieve it.

As for me? Now I have no excuses. I am going to work NOW. NOW I TELL YOU. I will RIGHT NOW hit save on this blog entry and prep it to auto-upload at the proper time. Then I will go to the kitchen and pour myself a glass of cool water. I will open the pantry and grab a handful of nuts for energy. I will come RIGHT back here and SIT MY BUTT DOWN and draft this freaking scene.

Unless, of course, when I open the pantry I discover the canned goods are shoved in there all willy nilly, with the beans touching the soup. I would of COURSE have to put off writing this scene and organize them.

Who could possibly work with THAT going on?

Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with her husband, their two kids, a hound dog, a scurrilous kitten, three aging gerbils, and a twenty-two pound, one-eyed Main Coon cat named Franz Schubert. She wishes their neighborhood was zoned for goats. Both her SIBA award winning first novel, gods in Alabama, and her Georgia Author of the Year Award winning second novel, Between, Georgia, were chosen as the #1 BookSense picks for the month of their release, making Jackson the first author in BookSense history to have Number 1 picks in consecutive years. Her latest, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, is now in bookstores!


Heather said...

Haha! Funny, I get the same way when I'm putting off working on homework!
I *just* got TGWSS from the library and can't wait to read it, but I have to go to class tonight! (boo!) But! I am going away for the weekend and shall thoroughly devour it then, and then assuredly come back and tell you how wonderful it is/was!

Roxanne said...

I think it was a roach. Sorry. Not as cute as an unauthorized field mouse.

Deborah P said...

Not ME, for sure! I do hope that the cans weren't wildly nilly-willy however, and that you were able to get back to work because the sooner you get it done, the sooner we can read it. Funny how that works, hmm?

River Jordan said...

Yep. It 's not writers block. It's creative writer panic - anything but THE CHAIR. A wierd attention disorder where writers will do anyhing but write. Like when I was supposed to be writing but instead had an overwhelming, over-powering, totally out of the blue and out of character experience to clean out from under the bed.

Can't wait to read the book Jos. Wish you were coming to Nashville. SFB is this weekend!
(PS - we have one of those fat cats - our entertainment is watching him TRY to roll over. Which tells you what's going on in our neck of the woods.)


Caryn said...

The things we do to procrastinate. Here's hoping that once you get started those words flow and don't slow down until you're ready for them to do so.

Laume said...

I think River hit the nail on the head - it's not the writing, it's the SITTING that is too difficult to face. If only I procrastinated by doing things that were at least more productive than websurfing, television news watching and popcorn making. Sigh.