One of the underrated skills for authors is proper cat rotation. Be they graduate students, fiction or non-fiction authors, indie or traditional, all writers have their own ways of cat rotation. Woe be to the author who discovers he took in a self-rotating cat, for he shall have to find a new way to spend time while battling the dreaded blank sheet of paper/screen.
Why rotate cats? So they stay even on both sides, of course. You do not want your cat flat on one side, with overly-worn fur. (Unless you have a Martian flat-cat, natch.)
Cat rotation comes in active and passive forms. Passive cat rotation involves time spent contemplating one’s cat, studying the shape and color pattern, how it naps, timing the rotations, but not really touching the cat. Watching clouds of loose hairs wafting into the aether off of a sun-worshipping feline may be one of the finest moments of passive cat rotation, because then you can spend at least another half hour wondering about the mechanism for fur release and what the best way to capture said fur will be. Active rotation involves turning the cat, tidying up around the cat, tempting the cat with a catnip toy or feather-on-a-stick, perhaps even changing the litter box before your cat starts needing to wear a gas-mask around the box, that sort of thing. Looking up information about cats, ancient Egypt, African wild cats, or jaguar worship in Mesoamerica on the internet or in books falls somewhere between the two categories, based on applicability to the matter at hand (the project you were “supposed” to be working on.)
There are a few sure signs that your cat needs rotation. You get everything organized and ready to write, and when the blank screen of a new, fresh Word document appears, it is time to go check your cat. Perhaps you have reached a transition between scenes and feel a sudden sense of trouble, as if you are not certain how to bridge the gap between scenes, or (as is common for this writer), you discover that the characters have sulled up and refuse to tell you what they intend to do next. That is a clear sign that rather than sketching out a scene, moving to a new section and coming back to work, or throwing ideas at the problem to see what sticks, you have a cat in need of rotation. If done well, such cat rotation can fill enough hours that your writing day is over before you get the chance to come back and see what’s wrong/not working/blocked.
As you can see, cat rotation can absorb large amounts of an author’s time. So much so that on occasion, non-writers have expressed astonishment at the amount of material an author can produce, given the huge number of hours their cat (or dog, hamster, goldfish, pet rock, small child) absorbs. This is why literary authors rarely produce more than one book and a few reviews, essays, and short fiction works a year. This is in part because large publishing houses, in their concern for nurturing authors, are careful to take cat welfare into account and thus limit writers to one or at most two works a year, carefully spaced to avoid animal welfare problems stemming from overstressed, unrotated felines.
Should you happen upon Schloß Red and look in at Athena T. Cat, you will see by her lovely round shape and symmetrical fur-wear that she gets rotated regularly. And the author’s output shows it, too. 😉