Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about writers and animals. Do you think there’s one particular animal who is best-suited to life with a writer? Do you think any particular animal makes a better writing companion/coach/muse? Do you have any favorite literary animals – either characters or real-life writers’ companions?
Jamie Wallace: This is a tough one because I love all animals. Many of the books I fell in love with as a child featured heroines who had a special connection with animals: Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books (Oh, how I wished I could have my own fire lizard!), and a book I’ve never been able to rediscover that featured a forest-dwelling girl named Kira who could talk to animals. I love the idea of having a “familiar” – a magical animal companion most closely associated with witches. I also loved Philip Pullman’s concept of animal daemons from the His Dark Materials trilogy.
In real life, I have had the pleasure of sharing my home with both dogs and cats as well as a beta fish named Benny. At present, my writing companions are feline – Cinder and Bella, daughter and mother respectively. You can see them in the header of my business website, and also here and there in my Instagram feed. While I love the way dogs get me away from my desk for healthy walk breaks (something I get to enjoy even though I don’t have a dog since I do some dog walking), I have always felt like there’s a particular connection between cats and literature. On the other hand, my dog Spencer used to love it when I read aloud to him; and the essay collection, E.B. White On Dogs, is one of my favorite books. I guess there’s no one species of animal that’s particularly adept at helping a writer write. I think it just depends on the particular animal’s disposition. Luckily for me, all of my four-legged friends seem to have developed a knack for inspiring and encouraging me at my work.
As for me give me a dog or a chicken as a writer’s companion.
For years I have had trusty dogs who have accompanied me to work (in my home office.) Over time there have been at most three companions and now with the recent addition of my mother’s dog I currently have two who sit and wait for me to write, never passing judgement when I daydream. I have found dogs to be loyal, patient, and most excellent listeners.
At one point however, when we had a chicken living in our house for 6 months (long story) she would nest on the corner of my desk while I wrote. She’d jump into a nest I had set up for her when I sat at my desk and stayed there keeping an ever watchful eye as I worked. Alas despite my efforts I could never get her housebroken and blobs of chicken poo would be indiscreetly strewn around our house. She was a lovely bird and I was nothing but sad the day we turned her out to the coop due to the very difficult ultimatum finally given to me by my husband that I make a choice between my beautiful chicken and he.
Lisa J. Jackson: For me, it’s cats. Right now, just one cat. But what’s better than having a furry companion sleeping next to me (after we wrestle about who gets control of the keyboard, that is!)
Most of the time, Elmo leaves me alone when I’m typing. When I pull out a notebook and pen and pillow to use as a lap desk, however, he suddenly has an urge to be on my lap. Being to the side is not an option – especially when there’s a pillow involved!
Dogs may be better at reminding a writer to stand up and move, however, a cat with a food schedule can be just as good. Elmo likes treats for lunch and dinner, and lets me know when it’s time for those special treats. And he won’t drink water from a bowl. So when he’s in the mood to drink water from the bathroom faucet, you can bet that I’m not able to ignore him for long!
Diane MacKinnon: Cats seem to me to be ideal writing companions. Right now my cat, George, is sleeping on the coffee table next to my feet as I type. He settled there after he got enough scratches behind the ears. I have two cats, Fred and George, and they appear on either side of me whenever I sit down on the couch with my laptop or my journal. I enjoy the silent, comforting companionship of my cats, along with their lack of judgement. All they ask is that I pet them few times before they settle down near me. I think a dog would be a great companion as well, with the additional benefit of walk breaks. My cats are very dog-like in their friendliness, but they have yet to join me on a brisk walk!