I was walking along the street with my mum one day a couple of years ago, both of us with our faithful hounds by our side, when a man stopped in front of us and cooed at my mum’s dog.
“Look at you!” he said. “Aren’t you beautiful?”
My mother’s pooch looked at him expressionlessly. She’s used to these types of compliments. They come her way all the time. Meanwhile, my little dog pattered towards the bloke hopefully, wagging her tail and looking for some praise of her own.
He glanced at her. “And you’re okay,” he said.
‘Okay’, sir? Just ‘okay’? I was silently seething. My dog is the most precious and perfect four-legged, fur-covered creature to ever walk this Earth. How dare he reduce her to a mere ‘okay’?
There was once a time I flexed my creative writing skills on the daily and now my ability to sit down and put pen to paper is so rusty that I think I can hear my knuckles squeaking as I type. So how did I go from a daily writer to a never writer? Allow me to share my wisdom.
Step 1: Question your ability
Think about all the rejections you’ve had. Don’t be shy, there are plenty of them! Remember the sinking, squirming, burning, aching sensations in your stomach and chest when those rejection emails came through. Concentrate on them. Concentrate hard.
Feels awful, doesn’t it? It makes you want to curl into a ball like a hedgehog and peek your nose out only when someone proffers you food.
And so the ritual begins. Small humans roam the streets, all hyped up on the kinds of treats that big humans typically ration for the purpose of bribery. Humiliating outfits are abound, comprised of old rags, plastic sacks, enormous white sheets, obnoxiously large, wide-brimmed hats, and an array of peculiar masks which make humans look a smidgeon uglier than they already are. Vegetables are carved to look like ghoulish grinning faces and plonked outside doorways and in windows to give us poor felines a fright as we go about our night-time exploits. (Felines other than myself, of course. Nothing frightens me, I can assure you.) Then there’s all the noise—the yells and screams and cries from humans of all sizes, even the ones large enough and old enough to know better. The entire palaver makes my tail itch.
I guess you could say I went out with a bang. There was certainly a sickening thud as my body made contact with the car bonnet. But actually, other than those final few seconds before everything went black, the last day of my life was unbearably dull.
I ate a cheese and pickle sandwich for lunch. Cheese and bloody pickle, couldn’t be more boring. Even the car accident was a cliché; I was lost in thought when I stepped out into the road. Forgot to check for traffic. And those thoughts weren’t about anything interesting. I was wondering whether I should order ham and pineapple or pepperoni pizza for my dinner.
But the bit that happened directly after my death was significantly more interesting.
Lit Up published my short creative nonfiction piece about losing my dad. It’s not the most cheerful thing I’ve ever written but we can’t write fun stories all the time, I guess!
His skin is too thin. Not papery — not that frail— but like the corners of a paperback that have been crumpled up and smoothed out one time too many. Each crease seems to be etched deeper than it was just twenty minutes ago. When the blood was still going round.
It’s my first foray into creative nonfiction and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Read it here.
Something really cool happened. Janise Michel created an animation for one of my short stories, I Remember, for her digital drawing class at university. It’s amazing and you should watch it immediately! That is all.
I wrote a song parody of ‘TiK ToK’ by Ke$ha for a fab Medium publication called Song Done Wrong. It made me snigger and I’m pretty proud of it, but I do apologise for inflicting this obnoxious earworm upon your lugholes. It takes me back to my uni days… oh, the hangovers.
Wake up in the morning feeling like I’m dizzy Grab my dog I’m out the door ‘cos she needs to get busy Before I leave, grab my coat and a big woolly hat ‘Cos when I peer out the door I know I’ll freeze in that
I’m talking icicles from my nose, nose Wearing five layers of clothes, clothes Cheeks got a bright red glow, glow
Skip-hopping while dog tugs on her lead, lead Rollin’ up at the park scene Tryin’ to get a little bit cosy
Are you a dog person? Do cats freak you out? Do you see the tiny face and giant eyes of a feline and feel a shudder run through you, as though you’ve gazed directly into the soul of the devil himself?
I used to be like you. A bite from a cat — a cat that had been purring beneath the gentle touch of my fingertips only seconds before it turned on me — put me securely in the ‘I Love Dogs’ camp when I was just eight years old. But now, twenty years on, I can say with hand on heart that I am both a dog and a cat person. Here’s how I did it.
I’d like to begin by thanking you for your vital, if short-lived, service. Over the past few months, you have done important work in aid of my taste buds and my stomach. You helped me to shovel pasta into my mouth at a rate that is almost superhuman. You allowed me to mash avocado onto toast so beautifully that my Instagram followers were driven wild. You even helped me to tackle the ring pulls on my Diet Cokes when I was afraid of breaking a nail, a task that is far beyond your intended role.
I know that I haven’t always been kind. Many a time I woke you from your slumber in the cutlery drawer, only for you to lay idle beside my plate as I threw my manners out the window and ate my food with my hands. You didn’t pass judgement on this lewd behaviour of mine, even when I ate so viciously that you were splattered with sauce and crumbs like mere placemats. Following this, and to my shame, I would simply mark you as ‘unused’ and replace you, unwashed, in the cutlery drawer.
Without a doubt, it is antics of this nature which have forced you to leave without saying goodbye…
Yeah, I’m writing on Medium! I’m hoping to post one new post -either fiction or silly non-fiction such as this – each week, so be sure to Follow me if you’re a Medium member. I’m looking forward to connecting with more people over there, too, so let me know if you’re a Medium writer.