Friday, November 18, 2011
guest post Author Deb Barnes
Some things in life remain a constant. I love cats and I love books. I am now over 50 years old and that has not changed other than now I am a new author who wrote a book about her cats called The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary. While this certainly makes for delightful water cooler talk, it was not something I had planned in my life. Sure, I have always been creative in nature and always wanted to write a book, but like somany others with dreams, I put it off thinking, “Yeah, maybe one day I’ll get to it,” without actually believing it. Well, “one day” did come in the form of two major events – Zee, my lovable male Maine Coon cat, and Zoey, my free-spirited female Bengal cat fell madly in love and subsequently had a litter of kittens together. The other event – I was unexpectedly laid off and had a lot more free time on my hands.
For me, the book began as a seed of an idea after the birth of the kittens. I began sending out a weekly series of emails to various family members and friends documenting the growth process of the kittens with a humorous narrative that was complimented by photographs taken by my fiancé, Dan. These emails were sent out religiously every Friday morning and soon became a sensation, as many recipients clamored for a book. I was honored by the compliments, but I hardly took the idea seriously. That was until I was unexpectedly laid off during “Week 7” of the kitten’s life and had A LOT more free time…
The process that followed was a long and difficult road, filled with uncertainty and severe depression. I knew I wanted to write a story about my cats, but emotionally I was not capable of being an author with any authority or talent. Being unemployed in my late 40’s was a lesson in humility and I found it difficult to function. I had envisioned a cute and sweet story filled with adorable kittens and humorous antidotes – being that I couldn’t even muster the energy to smile, this was a task too large for me to tackle. As it turns out, my cats and kittens were far wiser than me and were about to teach me some invaluable life lessons.
It was through them, that I began to see life through their minds eye and the personal revelation was profound. Cats live without judgment and in the moment. They do not dwell on circumstances, and, as long as they are loved, fed, have clean litter and a lap to nap on, then life is good. It was then that I realized I had a story to tell and a message to teach – I wanted to use my cats as more than a cute story about kittens climbing up a curtain. I wanted to use an honest, conversational, warm, and humorous style of writing to share a story that really explored the very real core of being a cat – how they express feelings and emotions, not just with one another, but with the world at large. I felt whether you were a “cat person” or not, that the journey of the chronicle itself, is something we all can relate to in one way or another and I became convinced I needed to share my positive feelings as they did, i.e., to “embrace the ordinary in life and dare to make it extraordinary.”
Once the mental roadblock had been cleared, my true colors emerged and I found out I was a purist by nature, meaning writing on napkins was the most effective way for me to remember an idea, and that most of my ideas stemmed from random moments of the day - normally either while I was at work at inappropriate moments; driving home during hostile rush hour traffic; when I was watching one of my favorite TV shows and my mind would wander; or when I was exhausted and wanted to get some sleep, but my brain just wouldn’t shut off, forcing me to get out of the bed at an ungodly hour to jot down my thoughts.
If I was driving, I would grab any scrap of paper I could find in my purse – check stubs, receipts, shopping lists, lottery tickets – and quickly and incoherently scribble my random thoughts to translate later onto the computer screen. Did this method work? Not really. More times than not, I would have no clue what I had written down and could only pick out one or two legible words. Invariably I would grab the only pen that was out of ink (aren’t they all when you really need one) forcing me to improvise and use either my eyeliner pencil or lipstick as a writing instrument.
No one ever said the life of an author was glamorous, especially the life of an author who writes about her cats. I still scoop litter, I still step in hacked up hairballs, and I still can’t walk one foot in front of the other without worrying about tripping over one of them. They have no respect for my newly appointed title in life and remain ever the masters of myself and my home!
You can visit Deborah’s blog at http://www.zeezoey.com. New and beautiful website coming soon!
Connect with her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/zeeandzoey and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/zeezoey.