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01 March 2017

The Time Traveling Cat | IWSG



The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question prompt is:

"Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.


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Image via The Graphics Fairy

I felt something furry brush up against my leg while I was making some coffee in the galley. We've had a problem with spiders on our boat, so, of course, I logically assumed one of them had mutated and grown into a large, hairy creature and was trying to attack me. 

As I screamed, I spilled milk all over the counter and it dripped down onto the floor. That's when I noticed it wasn't a mutant spider, but rather a large, gray cat. While he was busy licking up the milk from the floor, I reached down to pet him. He had really soft fur. Much nicer than a mutant spider.

"Hi kitty, what's you name?" I asked.

He turned around, looked up at me and said, "Meow." 

I was going to ask him to elaborate on his answer when I noticed that he had the weirdest eyes. Well, they weren't so much eyes as miniature clock faces. 

He meowed again, this time much more loudly and dug his claws into my leg. This is the problem with living on a sailboat in southern Florida. It's hot here and you're always wearing shorts. Cat claws just sink right into your flesh.

"Hey, watch it," I said sharply. I was beginning to think a mutant spider might have been a more welcome guest.

He sat back down on his haunches and blinked slowly at me. His clock face eyes were mesmerizing.

He swished his tail angrily and said, in English this time, "All right, enough now, lady. Give me some more milk and sit down. We've got stuff to talk about."

He jumped over to the settee and I put a saucer of milk in front of him on the table. He lapped it up greedily and then washed his face for a few minutes.

After a last wipe behind his ears, he said imperiously, "I'm Simon, the Time Traveling Cat." We don't have much time. Yeah, I know it's ironic, isn't it considering I can travel through time, but that's the way it is. Now, your personal life coach, Esme, told me about this month's IWSG question. She figured you'd find it challenging."

I frowned. Esme could be so annoying. "What right does she have to meddle in my business?" I demanded.  

"Frankly, I could care less," he said. "Unless it involves milk, cat food, scratches behind my ears and time travel, I'm really not interested. My only job is to take you forward in time. Now look into my eyes and count to ten."

Did I mention how mesmerizing his clock face eyes were? I felt myself fall into a deep sleep as he blinked his eyes slowly ten times. I was having all sorts of pleasant dreams about mutant spiders when I felt a sharp jab on my leg.

"Wake up already, lady. We're here," Simon said. 

I rubbed my eyes and looked around. "Here? We're in the same place, on my boat."

"Oh, don't tell me, you're one of those people who expects everything to be dramatically different in the future. No, everything is pretty much the same. We're seven years in the future and you still live on a boat. You might want to think about a dye job though. You sure have a lot of gray hair in the future."

"But, you're gray."

"That's different. I'm a cat. Cats look good in gray. You just look washed out. Now, get on with it. Look back at some of the work you've written over the past seven years and put aside because it was so awful. Are you going to rework any of it?"

I booted up my computer and poked around in the folder labeled Crappy Stories. I opened up a file. "Hmm. Here's an interesting one. It's about a time traveling cat named Simon. I don't remember writing it though."

"Whatever," he growled as he stretched out on the settee. "It's all that time travel, paradox, mumbo jumbo nonsense. Like I said, if it doesn't involve milk, cat food..."

"Yeah, I got it the first time. You're a typical cat. It's all about you," I said. "This story actually looks pretty interesting. The structure is all wrong and you can tell I didn't know what I was doing, but it's a fascinating idea - a cat who travels through time. It's amazing how much I've learned about writing in the past seven years. I bet I could rework it into something much better now."

Simon rolled over onto his back. "Good answer. Now pet my belly." 

After a few minutes of belly petting and purring, Simon got up, stretched and said, "Okay, time to go. You know the routine. Stare into my eyes."

Next thing I knew, I was standing in the galley watching milk drip onto the floor. I looked up and noticed a tiny spider scurry across the counter. I screamed and thought to myself that maybe I should get a boat cat to keep the insect population in check.

****

Before you go, here's a shameless plug for the IWSG anthology,  <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>. It will be published on May 2nd, but you can pre-order a copy from these online retailers:

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Amazon (Canada)
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Do you ever worry about large, mutant spiders brushing against your leg? If you could travel in time, would you go forwards or backwards and why?


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69 comments:

  1. Hi Ellen. I can't wait to read your story to my son. He loves cats. He'd love the time travel piece too. I have had my own brush with scary spiders. When I was a little girl, my neighbor had a beautiful dollhouse. One afternoon, I was playing in with it and about to fluff the doll bed when I noticed a giant hairy shadow in the dollhouse kitchen. I reached it and grabbed it. I got a solid hold and it the thing was indeed furry, huge, and very much alive. I screamed so loud and ran from the house. You see, I thought it was a toy rubber spider since the neighbor boy was a practical jokester. I was wrong. I wish I could have blinked myself right out of that house and into the trees. Today if I could travel through time, I'd definitely go back. I love nature so much and I would have loved to experience some of the art movements. Happy travels!

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    1. Wow - that would be so neat if you read about Simon to your dun :-) What a naughty neighbor boy tricking you.

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  2. I believe the kitty has spoken and you need to return to that time traveling cat story. And get some kind of bug killer.

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    1. I think I need a vat of bug killer to get rid of the spiders around here.

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  3. Mutant spider story next please? Then I'd travel back in time to discover why he or she is a mutant

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    1. Well, now there's a challenge -writing about a mutant spider. Hmmm, the possibilities...

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  4. LOL your time travelling kitty sounds a little scary...but then again, aren't all cats a little scary? *looks at her own kitty, lying so innocently in the sun* Hmmm...

    Your stories are always amusing!

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    1. I'd keep an eye on that cat of yours. They're not so innocent :-)

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  5. I worry about large mutant spiders all the time. I'm really loving on cats lately:)

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    1. I'm so glad there are other folks out there worrying about mutant spiders :-)

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  6. What a fun story! I do like Simon. He's fascinating. And I will take a time traveling cat any day over a mutant spider, or even a regular spider.

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    1. I'm with you - cats over spiders, any day.

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  7. I have to tell you, the pic of the cat totally freaks me out. I don't think I'd be able to look Simon in the eyes, even though he is totally better than a spider, mutant or otherwise.

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    1. His eyes are so mesmerizing that you wouldn't be able to help yourself :-)

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  8. Loved the short, and I signed up for the thunderclap. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Thanks so much for signing up for Thunderclap!!

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  9. Your file folder named "Crappy Stories." LOL!! Simon was so funny though a bit rude about the gray! Loved it! Have a great week!

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    1. Simon is such a grumpy old man. Always saying such rude things.

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  10. How fun. Okay on the spiders...not a fan either.

    If I could do time travel...I'd want to go both back and then into the future. Why not do both.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  11. I like the kitty. Will he help you solve mysteries? A boat cat sounds like a good thing for a write to have around. Even a time traveling one.

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    1. If Simon could solve the Case of the Missing Amps, we'd gladly let him stay.

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  12. That was like a Mad Hatter cat. He's spoken. Now get to work.

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    1. I better. He's a bit of a tough taskmaster.

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  13. Love it! When I was a tween, I was totally into reading cat anthologies. You took me right back to that phase and I'm tempted to go round up a couple of those books.

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    1. It never occurred to me that there were cat anthologies, but of course that makes total sense as so many cat people are also book people.

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  14. Spiders. *shudder* It reminds me of the time I was at my grandparents' house and I felt something tickle the back of my leg. So I swatted at it with my hand. My mom, who was sitting next to me, said, "That was a daddy-long-legs." I gasped, looked at the spider guts on my hand, and instinctively wiped it on the closest surface available, which happened to be her back. She wasn't too appreciative about that. :)

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    1. When we were growing up it was considered bad luck to kill spiders. We had to gently put them outside. Of course, it was mostly daddy-long-legs and not the scary ones I see here in Florida.

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  15. Hehehe nice take on answering the question. A time-traveling cat does sound interesting. :-)

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  16. Wow, I'm impressed at the way you take talking cats and time travel in your stride.

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    1. Oh, you know, you just have to go with the flow :-)

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  17. I just read recently that most cats are lactose intolerant, and that milk wasn't a good thing to feed them. Our cats just aren't that interested in it, though Gus will lick a bit of yogurt off of my finger. I don't see them time traveling either, they are pretty spoiled around here now.

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    1. I had cats that were interested in milk and others who couldn't care less. Never had one eat yogurt though :-)

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  18. I totally agree with that time travelling feline. Sometimes the scope of an idea outpaces our ability to write about it. As time goes on, as our skills improve (and as the idea has time to grow), we are ready to give it the life it needs.

    Also, you forgot the cookies.

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    1. I wondered if anyone would notice that ;-)

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  19. I would like a time traveling cat story. So would my cats. ;)

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    1. I wonder what mischief cats would get up to if they could travel in time?

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  20. Simon is a fascinating cat. You should feed him more often so he'll come back!

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    1. I have a feeling if you were slack and didn't feed him often enough, he'd sure let you know.

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  21. You had me at the title! Love it :)
    www.jessicatherrien.com

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  22. Simon is a great character. I enjoy your IWSG posts so much--they're always so creative and fun!

    I would go backwards. I've made a few mistakes I'd love to rectify.

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    1. There are a few do-overs I would like too.

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  23. This is a great story! I'm a firm believer that most of our old stories can be reworked. Everything is a rough draft, I figure, and I'm happy to sit down and wield an editor's pen at them :)

    Cheers,
    Jen

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    1. I like that perspective that everything is a rough draft. Makes it a bit easier to look back at old manuscripts with a more objective eye.

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  24. Another great story, Ellen. You are so creative with these prompts! Cats or "wild" spiders? Spiders don't need to get fed and don't have an attitude. But, cats are (usually) softer! I would go back in time I think, to find out about my ulterior paths.

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    1. I'd definitely go forward in time. I'm really curious what's going to happen.

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    2. But, it WILL happen and you get to see and experience it anyway... :-)

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  25. Love your story, Ellen! A time-traveling cat, no less. So charming.

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  26. We can all do without large, mutant spiders ;)

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    1. Especially in Australia where you already have way too many creatures that can kill you :-)

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  27. Wow, that cat. And spiders already! Doesn't hurt to flog your book at IWSG time.

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    1. It feels weird flogging the book, but I figure the IWSG crowd is supportive and understanding of these things.

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  28. Very cute story. Time traveling cat!

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  29. Oh, I have had nightmares about mutant spiders! I would much prefer to find a cat rubbing against my leg, which I often do :) I think Simon's right, this time traveling cat story sounds good.

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    1. Cats are the best. Definitely better than spiders, of any shape or form.

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  30. I loved this story! I have definitely been concerned about giant mutant spiders in my nightmares and I had a cat that liked to hide under my bed when I was a kid. If I got up at night, she would attack my ankles. I started jumping out of bed when I had to get up so I would get clear of the attack area. Of course, as soon as I returned to bed, she had taken over my pillow and growled at me when I took it back. Despite her night-monsterish attitude, she was a wonderful cat ... during the day.

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    1. Cats have this amazing ability to make you love and adore them, even when they're being difficult :-)

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  31. Fun story, Ellen. I wish I could write in such a humorous was -and so tightly. First class.

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  32. Ellen, I love your stories. I need the time-traveling cat so I can go back to my earlier life and start writing sooner. LOL

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  33. That time-traveling cat story is calling out to you...don't ignore it!
    Ellen, I have to say(again) that I love your writing voice.

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  34. One more reason to keep on writing now, so that if the time traveling cat comes to visit, I'll have something to look at after seven years. Would be a pity if my folder was empty and I was still on page 1 of the first story. Id rather deal with time traveling cats than mutant spiders, thank you. And I'd choose to move forward. I'm curious about what the world will be like when I'm long dead.

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  35. Shared on FB, Tweeted and Tumbled!!
    Can't wait to read it!!

    - Lisa

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