I am reblogging a post that I wrote in 2010 based on the advice to a would-be writer in Muriel Spark’s novel “A Far Cry from Kensington”: “To focus, get a cat.” I love cats, but sadly have none at the moment. On occasion, our adult daughter has brought her magnificent, marvelous cat with her for a weekend visit. A cat can transform for the better the mood, and even the level of thought, within a house. Here is my blog from 2010: “To focus on your writing, get a cat.”
Can’t concentrate? Having trouble getting into flow with your writing? Get a cat!
Advice to writers can come from the most interesting places. An unexpected, but most entertaining source of advice is A Far Cry from Kensington, a novel by British writer Muriel Spark.
A Far Cry takes place in 1954 London. Mrs. Hawkins, the narrator, has a job in publishing. And yes, it is she who offers the acutely insightful advice that if you can’t concentrate, get a cat.
In a hilarious dinner party scene, Mrs. Hawkins is seated by a red-faced, watery-eyed Brigadier, who, in response to her question about his having had an interesting life, replies, “Could write a book.” He hasn’t because he hasn’t been able to concentrate.
Mrs. Hawkins tells him that to concentrate, “you need a cat”:
Alone with a cat in the room where you work . . . the cat will invariably get up on your desk…
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