I’d had a handful of very bad days. Writing had been slugglish and unproductive. My cumulative word count was pitiful and the anxiety level inside me was getting almost intolerable. I’m going to run out of time if I can’t produce more pages a day.
There’d been no word on book 2 in the Mystwalker series. Oh God, what if my editor hates it? Will I have time to fix it? How big will the changes be? Will the revision be huge? Oh God, I can’t go back to that revision hell. I can’t.
And worse (and here’s where you’ll really want to bitchslap me), I’d been the recipient of great news about The Trouble With Fate. Things that should have made me feel wonderful. Instead all I could feel was fear. I’m a fraud. I’m a lousy writer. I don’t know if I can write another good book.
There were a helluva lot of voices going on inside me. Most of them negative. The universe is fucking with me. I can’t write, and I need to write, and I’m afraid, and things are going to change, and I’m not ready for it.
I put the food down for the dog. “Eat it,” I growled. He looked at it doefully then at me. I yelled to my husband. “The stupid dog won’t eat his food. I’m sick of it. I’m not going to hand feed him for the rest of his life.”
“Well, just leave the plate on the floor and walk away.”
“I can’t. Tthe cat will claim his food.” It’s a fact. You know how in the first Terminator, Sara Connor was soft and sweet? And then in the next Terminator she was ropey armed and semi-psycho? Well, that’s Missy. As she rolled into her golden age, she developed crazy territory issues and significant delusions of grandeur. For instance, she will NOT move out of your way. Not at all. Not one inch. Make my day, she seems to say. Try and move me.
Missy is unmoveable. Missy doesn’t change her opinion about her course action for any human. Missy resists changes.
“Put the cat out in the garden,” my husband said. “Then leave the food on the floor. Go for your walk, Bear. You need to blow off steam.”
So I did. I grabbed my iPod and threw open the door. A package had been propped against. Must have come during my shower. Even without my reading glasses, I could read the label. St. Martin’s Press. I carried it into office. Inside was the galley proofs of my book. I looked at it and knew I should be doing the waggy-bum victory dance. But all I felt great crawling fear. So many changes. I don’t want my world to change.
I left the book right there, and walked out the door. It took me half a block to get my earphones untangled. Without my glasses, I can’t read the the songs. The device had been set on random selection anyhow. I screwed in my earbuds and hit play.
The universe had been listening.
David Bowie started singing. I hadn’t heard that song in–well, a dog’s life.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes. Don’t want be a richer man. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes. Just going to have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.
Well, for the record, I’ve never really figured out what the last line means. But I didn’t need someone with a sledgehammer to tell me that “someone” was trying to talk to me. The song kept me company during my entire walk. As I eyed the chipmunks, and noted the lilacs, and smiled at the violets growing near someone’s back fence, I thought about changes, and how obstinant I am. I don’t want to face anything different from the life I’ve led for the last 26 years. I’m comfortable. Aren’t I? Well, mostly. What’s the harm in resisting change? Maybe I can stay how I am and just somehow compartmentalize my life? You know, two personalities. Writer Leigh Evans and Leigh-Ann who wears the same red t-shirt for two days in a row?
I rounded the corner to our street. Missy was sitting dead centre in street. Just staring down a car. Refusing to move. In the middle of the street. “Missy! Move!” I yelled, breaking into a sprint. But she didn’t. She didn’t even turn her head, and I know her hearing’s still good. Oh my God. She can never be let outside again. The sedan driver threw up her hands and inched her vehicle around my stubborn cat before I could reach her.
“You stupid, stubborn, unmoving…” I shook my head and draped her over my shoulder.
Ch-ch-ch-changes played in my ear.
Inside the house, my dog was waiting by his full feed bowl. I sat down on the tile. “You go and get your own food,” I told my death-wish cat, unlooping her claws from my red shirt. Tail twitching in irritation, she stalked away. With a sigh, I reached for the plate. Rolled a bit of mush between my fingers to make a ball. Extended it to Gibby.
His soft pink mouth delicately accepted my offering.
He is dying. But slowly. I can’t change that.
My cat has turned into pyscho kitty. She refuses to adapt to the outside world. I can’t change that either. All I can do is make sure she’s never let out in the garden again.
I roll another mouthful and offer it. “Here Gibby. Eat.“