Sunday, June 12, 2011

Carolyn Haines: The Reason I am a Lunatic

I’ve opted not to write about “living with a creative lunatic.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write about this topic, but I couldn’t get the dogs or cats or horses to dish any dirt on their feelings. Most of them have known only me - therefore they don’t know what it might be like to live with an accountant or a postal worker. And I am not about to tell them! What they would miss, of course, is the fact that I am home 24/7 to open cans of food, cook chicken and dumplings, rush out in the 90+ heat to hose them off, and open the door for endless dips in the pool while I sweat bullets at the keyboard.

They might laugh at me as I wander around the house looking for my right shoe that I took off somewhere and can’t find, or because I talk to my characters while I’m cooking for the dogs, or that I get out of bed in the wee hours to write a scene that wouldn’t come during the daylight.

I’m sure the cats find delight in the fact that I curse a blue streak when I write myself into a corner and have to delete a week of hard work. Cats find most human distress to be a source of great amusement. They know they will NEVER make a mistake. They eat, they sleep, they stretch—they are endlessly resourceful in getting their way. Mistakes are not part of a cat’s DNA.

The cats find it particularly amusing to do something when I am just at the point of genius. They sense that I am about to make a breakthrough in a particularly trying scene, when I’ve managed to unsnarl a plot point. That is the moment they rush in through the doggie door with a live bird in their mouth. Or better yet, a snake.

Oh joy! Whatever train of thought I had chugging painfully uphill is derailed and I can only think—SNAKE! So far, this has only occurred with nonpoisonous snakes and believe me, they are as traumatized as I am. I have discovered that if I can find a real paper sack and a broom, I can sweep them into the sack and then rush down to the woods and let them go. We both pant and sigh and go our separate ways. I return to the house to discover one or two of the cats—asleep in my chair. 

On the computer screen there are at least 1000 z’s where the cats have typed their disdain at my writing.

Once when I was on deadline, Poe, my lovely black cat at the time, brought in a field rat. It was almost as big as the cat and really, really pissed off. I had gotten up at 5 a.m. to write—I was on deadline!

By the time I got the rat into a plastic tub and put it in the truck and drove it to the woods, I was a quivering mass of gelatin. The writing day was shot.

Poe sashayed through the house, the tiniest little kitty smile on his face, as if to say, “Write? You think you’ll get to write today? Sure.” How can I top that?

And if the cats and dogs aren’t enough, the horses get into the act. Before the road was paved and before the suburbanites moved out to my neck of the woods, I lived on a dead-end dirt road. My horses are mostly happy to hang around the farm. I mean they’re waited on hand and foot, they’re fed twice a day with supplements and groomed and hosed and pampered and ridden minimally. But because I had writing that had to be done (again, on deadline) they decided to open the gate and take off down the driveway.

Trust me, there is nothing like the sound of hooves pounding to get my heart-rate up. Those horses don’t get in a hurry to do anything unless it’s naughty. I looked out my window and saw the whole herd flying down the driveway toward the road.
I jumped out of my chair, found shoes, and took off in hot pursuit. (Yes, it is true that Mississippi authors often write barefooted. But give me creds, I wasn’t pregnant.)

I got down to the end of the driveway just in time to see—to my horror—that a road crew was putting a large pipe through the middle of the road. They’d dug a huge trench and there were at least six men, neck deep, in the trench working in the middle of the road.

They saw the herd of horses racing toward them. I saw their faces. Their expressions were uniform. It was an “oh, s—t moment.” The horses got to the ditch in a dead heat. They leaped into the air, clearing the worker’s heads, the ditch, and the mound of dirt on the other side. They raced down to the end of the road, turned around and came back. The workers were horrified. I was paralyzed by fear.

The horses cleared ditch, dirt, and workers a second time and barreled toward the driveway. They passed me, turned down the drive and smoked it back to the barn. By the time I got home, they were grazing peacefully in the pasture.

I have no sympathy for animals that live with a “creative lunatic.” Rather than pity the animals who put up with my antics and insomnia, I believe your pity should be reserved for me. They have made me a lunatic. I rest my case.

A native of Mississippi, Carolyn Haines lives in Alabama on a farm with her dogs, horses, & cats. Bones of a Feather, the 11th book in her Sarah Booth Delaney series, releases on June 21.  Sign up for Carolyn Haines' Newsletter & feel free to visit her Website, along with her Facebook, Twitter, & Fan Page.


Kat said...

Oh my goodness, this made me laugh out loud this morning. Those poor workers - I bet they had to clean their britches when they got home! And can you imagine the dinner table conversation? Pets add so much to our lives, although sometimes more than we bargained for :) Kat

Carolyn said...

The things that go on at my house--I am never at a loss for entertainment. Sanity, yes. Amusement, no. And I did feel very sorry for the workers in the ditch. Had I had one ounce of energy left after checking the horses, I would have baked cookies for them.

Sandy said...

Ha ! Me and Momma cat treed a coon Friday night !
(Small one) attempting to come onto the porch, he bowed up at me when I walked out, and Momma cat just bowed up right back at him, and you could actually see him thinking " the cat I could take, but I don't know about that big creature that just came out" and up the nearest tree he went ! We sat out there for a few minutes, and he just watched us, and I caught him looking at me, and yes, I told him, come on down and go on now...and he fast as he could !

Nicole Seitz said...

Carolyn, this is hilarious and priceless. I love the photos of your menagerie. What color pets and people add to each other's lives!

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