Writer’s block isn’t something I’ve ever struggled with. Perhaps it’s because I write (non-fiction) for a day job–my boss is laid back and generous, but I don’t think it’d fly with him if I said “Hey, Ivor, I have writer’s block today so I’m just going to play Solitaire until home time. Make me a cup of tea?”
He probably would make the tea though. We are British.
For my writing process at least, there’s no such thing as writer’s block.
But there is cat block.
Cat block is an affliction spread to humans by Felis catus, the domestic cat. Those fanged, clawed predators who have never forgotten the heady days of Egyptian worship and hold secret cat meetings where they laugh at us suckers for clothing and housing them for free. More than that, for being grateful that they allow us to clothe and house them for free. Even more than that, for blaming ourselves when they scratch the crap out of us. After all, it must be our fault for, I don’t know, spending slightly less per week on cat food than we do on rent, or touching the wrong vertebrae during a three-hour massage, or looking at them with the wrong eyeball.
Cat block is a phenomenon not yet recognised by science, but anecdotally shared by every writer with a feline companion. Or, if you’re a sucker for punishment like me, two or more feline companions.
It takes many forms:
- Felis catus demands worship during the precious two hours of writing time the harried author has carved out of her day.
- Felis catus decides hands are better than the 47 toys his foolish human has presented for disdain and shunning over the past few months, even though said human knows the cat will prefer to play with the cardboard box the £55.99 toy arrived in. This leads to Felis catus attacking the fingers each time they move on the keyboard until the author is afraid to move and calls pathetically for her husband to rescue her.
- Felis catus determines that the £64.99 heating pad, contoured specifically for feline morphology and optimum temperatures, is substandard. The £599.99 laptop is more like it, and who cares if the fan will get clogged up with ginger fur and have to be professionally cleaned? The keyboard is the perfect place for a catnap, and the writer will just have to look longingly at the blank sheet of Word that would have been another 400 words towards finishing the novel.
- Felis catus takes pity on the poor human and decides to allow it to pet him. The best place for this to occur, naturally, is with Felis catus sitting on the human’s chest (butt to face, always) where the human’s world is reduced to a blur of orange and the view of the laptop is but a distant memory.
Cats are arseholes.