I am incredibly lazy. Instead of actually writing this story, I’m going to reuse an old narrative essay about this topic. It’s a bit stilted, since I was (or am?) still figuring out how to merge personality with academic writing. With that in mind, I tried to make it more bloggable. Is that a word? No? Well, now it is.
My first story was terrible. Using increasingly elaborate notebooks covered with lighthouses and bees, I carefully composed a narrative involving princesses, stilted vocabulary, and talking horses. After roughly five years of this silliness, my original story had fallen into a sad state of neglect. Seeking distractions, I was lurking on the Amazon Romance Forum, as I often did, when a poster asked what sort of romance heroes and heroines our pets would make. I considered this question deeply. I considered it so deeply, in fact, that I wrote a novel about it. Pup, my little pit bull heeler mix, I made my heroine, and Midnight, my black cat with an ego the size of Alaska, was the hero. With those characters, I wrote over a thousand pages of drafts and tidbits. I learned something about composition from my original story, but my pets were the ones who really inspired my writing.
Pup came to us on a cold, rainy day during that indefinable time between autumn and winter. My mother found her shivering on the back porch, her dirty fur sticking up like a miniature porcupine’s quills. How she had wormed her way through the fence, we didn’t know. We also didn’t know how she wormed her way into our lives. She was a happy creature, with sharp little teeth that cut my skin when she played too rough. My dad thought we could use a guard dog, and none of us objected to a puppy, even if said puppy played so fiercely that we could lift the tug of war rope and her together off the ground. Eventually, she turned into a knee-high, streamlined beauty, with liquid hazel eyes, a brindle coat, and addictions to swimming and fetching.
Midnight, on the other hand, was nearly a gentleman and not at all rough and tumble. With a black-red coat and eyes of purest jade, he came to us an innocent, playful kitten and grew into a cunning devil so charming we couldn’t help but tolerate his chronic food-stealing. However, he atoned for his sins by cuddliness and warmth; I woke up with a face full of fur and a stuffy nose often. In addition to cuddling and stealing, Midnight liked demanding attention and watching us petty humans from his perch on the kitchen cabinets. He also frequently got stuck on the roof.
Because Midnight stole so cleverly and Pup fought so well, I decided they could only be pirates. Using their personalities as my inspiration, I created human characters named Amanda Scrivener and Naphtali Harris. Since Pup delighted in following rules and receiving rewards for good behavior, Amanda was a true lady with reforming zeal, while Naphtali was a carefree rogue with…well, an ego the size of Alaska. The more I observed, the more I learned about them. Midnight, I found, was not as confident as I had first assumed—in fact, he showed insecurity, especially around other tomcats—but he fought ferociously when he had the advantage. I learned that Pup followed the rules far less than I had originally assumed, especially when she stole a sandwich from Dad. As I realized these things about them, my characters changed on paper too. Amanda became rougher and more prone to mockery; Naphtali became more self-effacing and ruthless.
When hammering on the keyboard didn’t occupy me, I went for long walks with Pup, with Midnight sometimes trailing behind—a black speck on a dusty road. It was summer then, and when the cars passed us by, dust clogged our throats and coated on our skin. Nevertheless, Pup kept swaggering in the way that only pit bulls can, moving her hips from side to side with not a care in the world. I always walk like her now.
In the end, Midnight ran away or got picked up by people who wanted his little green eyes for their own, and I’m no longer as close to my dog. Nevertheless, those characters still haunt me, and I couldn’t get rid of them even if I tried. The more I learned about my pets, the more I learned about my characters. Eventually, they no longer influenced the story. Naphtali and Amanda began to take on lives of their own, moving away from their original templates, but without Pup and Midnight, I could never have told the stories I do now.
And there you have it, the story behind my blog. Pirate kitties are the foundation of my non-existent writing career. I should note that Pup only got a name that stupid because my dad insisted on it. I also have no idea why I admitted to surfing the Amazon Romance Forum to my English teacher.
I’ve never considered that novel a success, but I did manage to craft a little short story out of it that I consider finished. More on that later.