This past January, one of my New Year's resolutions was to quit procrastinating so darn much. As for living up to the resolution, well, let's just say I procrastinated on that, too! But with the year winding down, I'm finally getting around to some things I've been meaning to do for ages, including a longtime dream project of mine. And just what is this dream project, you ask? (No, it's not sampling every brand of chocolate on Earth... honest!) It's none other than writing my very own special book: excerpts from the diary "kept" by my kitty, Priscilla Teasdale!
Pardon my modesty, but isn't that just about the best idea in the whole world? I first thought of it seven years ago, when I spotted a marked-down copy of Millie's Book at B. Dalton. Do you remember President Bush Sr.'s spaniel, Millie? Well, First Lady Barbara Bush wrote this story about Millie's life at the White House, pretending that she was Millie, and that the dog was intelligent and could write! Well, it struck me that I was a pet owner, too, and if Barbara Bush could write as her dog, why couldn't I write as my kitty? (After all, kitties, like doggies, are people, too!)
The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I truly believed this idea could fly. I'd been looking for another writing outlet besides my newspaper column, and this seemed so perfect! (Or should I say "purr-fect"?) Plus, people just love anything that has to do with kitties or doggies! It seemed a shoo-in for the bestseller list!
Trouble was, back in 1994, I had two cats, not one. Which would be the book's protagonist, Priscilla or Arthur? I'd always felt Prissy had a richer emotional life, but Arthur had more interesting adventures. (Of course, being an indoor cat, his adventures were pretty much limited to chasing glints of sunlight on the rug and getting a new water dish!) Unable to choose between my two pretties, I let the project gather dust.
A couple of years ago, my quandary about which cat to choose seemed to resolve itself when Arthur died. (As you hardcore Jeanketeers may recall, he tragically choked to death on a Pincers The Lobster Teenie Beanie Baby.) At first, I decided to make Arthur my protagonist to honor his memory. But after several tries, I just couldn't bring myself to write about him. True, it would have been a nice tribute, but it was all too sad. And trying to write about Priscilla, just because she was the only cat left, made me even sadder. (I'd better end this paragraph pronto before I start bawling!)
Anyway, after dropping the idea for a few more years, I finally came back to it a few weeks ago. Enough time had passed since Arthur's death, and I finally felt ready to write about Priscilla. (A little over a year ago, I acquired a sweet kitty named Garfield, but since Prissy and I had been pals for years, she seemed the more natural choice for my project.) I was nervous that the book would be difficult, but you know what? Not only has it been fun to write, it has practically poured out of me! It's like this thing practically writes itself!
So I thought I'd give you Jeanketeers an exclusive advance peek at Prissy's Diary: The Meow-moirs Of Priscilla Teasdale. I've got about 10 pages done, but because my space is limited, I'm including just a small snippet. I've never written a book before, and I'm sort of flying by the seat of my pants here, writing down anything and everything that enters my head. So it's kind of rough and unstructured. But I think the lack of consistency is more than made up for by the abundance of heart. And to me, that's more important. Nevertheless, I'd looove feedback from my readers. Let me know if I'm going in the right direction. Be completely honest... I can take it! (I have thick skin. You have to in the newspaper business!) Oh, and if you know of any publishers who might be interested, let me know!
Well, here goes!
Tuesday, May 25, 1993
Dear Diary, Do I have exciting news! I found a loving home with the Teasdale family! My new mommy is named Jean, and my daddy's name is hubby Rick! I first met Jean when she showed up at the Gerson County Humane Society to adopt a little kitten. At first, I thought Jean was going to bring home every kitty there. (What a softie!) But when she saw my pretty tortoise-shell fur and green eyes, she knew I was the one!
My home is great! There's every kind of Tender Vittles here, and all the tap water I can drink. My litter box even has a roof over it! There's just one problem: When hubby Rick came home and saw me, he got really mad! He started yelling at Mommy, saying how dare she bring home a kitten when she knows he's allergic to kitties. Well, I heard Mommy say he was just exaggerating the whole allergy thing, but Daddy was still very angry and told Mommy to take me back to the Humane Society, because "there wasn't no way he'd live with some sissy cat!" Then, something really scary happened: He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and tossed me in an old beer crate! Mommy started bawling and practically got down on her knees and begged Daddy to let her keep me, saying she wanted a kitty so bad, and that she promised that she'd do everything, and that he wouldn't even have to so much as pet me. So Daddy said Mommy could keep me for a month, but if it didn't work out, I'd have to go back.
I sure was glad to get out of that crate—it smelled like stale beer! And I really hope I can stay at the Teasdales. (Even if Daddy is a great big grouch!)
Saturday, Dec. 25, 1993
Dear Diary, It's my very first Christmas! Of course, Mommy Jean had to explain that Christmas is Jesus' birthday. (Just in case you were wondering, I believe in Jesus... 'cuz I'm a Cat-holic!)
Anyway, I got a lot of great presents! I now have a carpet-upholstered scratching post, complete with a perch so I can look out our bedroom window in comfort. And I got soooo dizzy playing with my new catnip mouse on a string! Best of all was the big can of Bumble Bee tuna Mommy Jean got me. I got to eat it all as a special Christmas treat! (Unfortunately, it made my stomach all jumpy, and I threw it up later that night. Boy, was Daddy Rick mad when he stepped in my partially dried vomit with his bare feet in the morning!)
Monday, Sept. 8, 1997
Dear Diary, Mommy Jean is just the greatest! Today, she got me a nice, warm, fuzzy sheepskin bed to sleep in! I showed her a lot of extra love today; I rubbed against her legs and purred like crazy. Mommy Jean may not have fur and a tail, but there's no one in the world I love more! It's too bad Daddy Rick won't give her human babies to raise. She has so much love to give, yet I fear so much of it will remain trapped forever in her heart.
It's true that I don't have children, either, but that's because I had a little operation when I was still a baby kitty. Mommy Jean never had an operation. She's as fertile as a river delta! Her doctor said so, even though he says she should lose a lot of weight before getting pregnant. I sure hope that one day I'll have a little human brother or sister to play with! I'll even let them yank my tail!
You know, as I re-read this, I'm thinking that some of it may be a little unrealistic. Kitties, wonderful and wise as they are, might not have such a developed vocabulary and keen insight. Well, it's only a first draft. (Boy, writing fiction is harder than I thought!)