What Johnny Baby Taught Me About Writing. RIP, little fella.

My beloved cat, Johnny Baby, has passed a way. He had a good life. I adopted him twelve years ago and he was not exactly a kitten. He was a full grown cat, 18 pounds. I remember writing my first novel as Johnny Baby whined at me to feed him a little tuna-fish. He moved with me over the course of several cities and kept me company as I wrote The Untelling. In 2005, I asked my mother to cat-sit while I was on book tour, but she and Johnny Baby hit it off so well, that they eloped. Mama was always gracious enough to tell me that he was still my cat, but the two of them were perfectly suited. He was such a lovely companion– smart enough to open doors, compassionate enough to sense when I was having a bad day so he would hop up in my lap and purr. I’ll miss his sweet black-and-white face, and I know my mother will to.

I am trying not to be sad, so I wanted to repost this piece I wrote about giving Johnny Baby a bath on New Years Day.

Over the New Year’s holiday my cat, Johnny Baby, was banished to the animal hotel. (We had an allergic house guest.) Anyway, he came home in a rather malodorous condition. My first thought was to just let him air out, but after a few minutes, it became clear: Johnny Baby needed a bath.

Cats don’t like to be bathed and people don’t like to bathe them, but sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do.

Procrastinating, I checked my email where I received a message from Jafari

Today’s Daily Word
My Year: This new year marks a fresh start for me.

I considered bathing myself as a symbolic act, but I realised that bathing the cat was closer to the real work that has to be done.

As we jump into the new year, let’s figure out what needs cleaning in our lives so we can get our writing off on the right foot. It’s won’t be easy. I had to drag Johnny Baby out from under the bed to even get him in the sink. I had to ask my mother for help, as washing a cat is a two person job. (You have to realize you can’t go it alone.)

Then, there is just the element of hard work. Scrubbing a cat is manual labor, no art to it. Just wet and dirty and a little bit dangerous. (a lot of writing is like that. No romance, no mystery, just grunt work.)

Finally, we blew him dry which he didn’t like one bit. Now this is important. Cats hate to get wet. We were drying him and he fought that even harder. (The message: relax and accept the balm.)

Sometimes it takes a moment to know when you’ve got a good thing. And finally, there is the maintenance issue. As soon as we got him all clean and dry, he started licking himself. Although the point of the bath was for me to teach him a lesson, at the final step he reminded me of something crucial.(It’s not enough just to clean up your act. Once you get it together, you have to keep it together.)
More pics here.

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