For those who don’t know, I foster cats and kittens for a local high intake, open door shelter that gets about 20,000 cats a year. And yes, it is a kill shelter. It’s a simple math equation: they’re required by law to accept every incoming animal but they just don’t have the space or resources to care for and safely place every single animal. They do an excellent job with the resources they have and I wish they were better funded. You better believe if I ever won a multi-million dollar lottery I’d be starting some major mandatory spay/neuter programs in my city.
Anyways. March to October here is “kitten season” which sounds cute and granted, it can be really cute.
And it can also be heartbreaking.
That adorable white fluffball was my foster for a day. He came to me with pneumonia, not eating, and a whopping 7 days old. Also, albino (genuine albino, not a dominant white. He had red eyes). The odds were stacked against him. He rallied once or twice, but then ultimately passed away snuggled up in a blanket on my chest around midnight, exactly twelve hours after I took him home.
Sometimes, ideas are like bottlefeeder kittens. They require round-the-clock care, feeding every couple of hours, swaddling in blankets, and heating pads to keep them warm. And yet, they still might die on you. Despite your best efforts, some ideas aren’t meant to stay.
And that has to be okay.
What I can tell you is that the ideas that stick around and survive kittenhood turn into cats, for better or for worse. Which means manuscripts are like herding cats! And this metaphor just gets lovelier and lovelier.
Sometimes you have to know that staying up to midnight with an idea and knowing it’s not going anywhere is okay. What you did with that idea matters and mattered. Because even when we’re writing for ourselves, even when we’re writing things that will never see the light of day or poking sticks at ideas that seem like they’re doomed to fail from the start, we learn something from the process and our hearts and minds get a little bigger.
Just like taking care of bottlefeeder kittens.