Cats, the post

For my second post, I thought we might continue to get to know one another. While I promised to never do another imaginary Q&A, this would still require a conversation of some kind. I began it this way.

Me: What’s your name?

You: (silence)

That was a no-go from the get-go. Then I recalled what Rebecca Schinsky (a.k.a., She Who Knows All Things Social Media/Blogging/Books) had said about my second post: nothing. I could write a post about anything. Our cats, for example. Correction. My cats.

It all began a few years ago—many past events do, I find—when our younger daughter Anna broke up with boyfriend I-forget-the-number. As with previous breakups (and those to come), Anna was distraught. My most heartfelt and practical advice—“Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll have another boyfriend one day”—didn’t lift her spirits. Like men often do with women, I had misread the situation: My job was to listen; and if anything could make Anna feel better, she’d let me know. At last, she did.

“I want a cat,” she said.

Not what I was expecting, but before long Family Tisdale was en route to PetSmart, where we went to look at the adult cats up for adoption. An older, calmer cat, wiser from a life of hard knocks, desperate to please a new owner, sounded like the right cat-acquisition strategy to me. Looking through the glass at a big, sleeping, neutered (informative window sticker) grey tomcat sporting white, baby-booty paws, I said, “I like the looks of him. What do you think?” No reply came, but then it never does when others aren’t present. The girls—wife Maria, Anna and sister Sara—were in the center aisle gushing over the kittens.

I moseyed over to the kitten cages. Anna handed me a brown tabby. Worn out from all the attention it had been receiving, it settled down for a snooze in my arms. Anna added a grey tabby to my arm cradle. It promptly climbed onto my shoulder and then atop my head, proof that even at an early age a cat has a strong need to do what’s in its nature: Look down on us humans. They were both cute. Which one would we choose?

Seeing our indecision, someone (possibly an interfering PetSmart staffer) said, “If you get two, they can play with each other.”

This was choosing-between-two-kittens advice? The mob-rule element of House Tisdale thought so. I wasn’t so sure. We needed to think this over. And away from PetSmart, too.

We went to a nearby deli for lunch. As we ate, Maria, Sara and Anna stared at me. We returned to PetSmart, where it was time for me to be firm. I had a tough decision to make. I was going to make it.

“We’ll take them both,” I said.

After all, if one is going to cave, one might as well cave lock, stock, and litter box.

We named the brown tabby, Coco, and the grey one, Lola. They grew up fast—though not as quickly as Maria returned to work, Sara left town for points north, and Anna decamped to college dorms and apartments. Meanwhile, back on the home and freelance-writing front, I continued in the role of constant-cats companion.

What else can I tell you about the Cats Tisdale? Like other female members of the family, they like things their way. And of course they do charming cat things (e.g., fireplace-mantle sitting, hair-tie playing) as well as irritating cat things (e.g., midnight blind “I want to go out” banging, bathroom activity sharing [and that’s any activity]).

Do cats help the writing process? When not catatonic, and in the mood, yes, they can be able assistant editors, though more in limited, desk-accessory roles, such as furry paperweights and printer-operation observers. Sad to say, cat talents don’t carry over into composition. But in the event I did get a special request for something written in stream of cattishness (e.g., nnnnnnnnnnnnjjjjjjjjlllllllllllllllllll?//////’), I know I have the capable staff to take it on.

 

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My first post and last ever Q&A
(I promise)

Welcome to the debut post on my blog. Just as you thought, given the masthead, I’m George Tisdale. Otherwise you might be feeling disappointed and it’s much too early in our delicate blogger-reader relationship for that.

Why am I blogging? My social-media consultant, Rebecca Schinsky (a.k.a., The Book Lady), told me I had to have an established online presence well before I submitted my novel manuscript to agents this year. I pay Rebecca for her advice, and rarely win an argument with her, so here I am.

What will I be writing about?

Hold a sec. I’ve posed two questions in the first three paragraphs. Let’s switch to a Q&A format where I imagine you asking me questions and me answering them. This could be fun. Or weird.

Q May I continue?
A Be my imagined guest.

Q What will you be writing about?
A It’s early days — actually, moments — here on the blog, but my plan is pretty simple: write about a variety of subjects and hope to entertain (more than I am in this current sentence).

Q Did you start writing early and were you encouraged?
A Yes, although I was writing letters and didn’t know I was becoming a writer. And yes to being encouraged, discounting the comment a certain aunt once made about my spelling.

Q Do you spell well today?
A Absolutely, with special thanks to my copy of 20,000 Words (McGraw-Hill, 7th Edition) by renowned speller Lewis A. Leslie, plus the world’s greatest spell-guesser, Google.

Q Are you a professional writer?
A I write for a living, yes (and on some days live better than others).

Q Why have I never heard of you?
A Advertising materials don’t get signed by their writers. We’re ghostwriters of a kind.

Q What made you decide to write a novel?
A Advertising did.

Q What sort of ad was it?
A I didn’t mean that in that sense. I was unclear, a painful admission for any writer. But anyway, writing advertising is writing in the voice of the advertiser. Not once in my career has a client said, “George, use your own voice when you write for us.” I know, can you believe it? I wanted to write a story in my own voice, simple as that.

Q How has a career in advertising influenced your fiction writing?
A It’s honed my sense of humor.

Q Does that mean your novel is funny?
A It’s hilarious.

Q Should I just take your word for that bold claim?
A Actually, I have a bunch of words you’re free to take. Please see my “Meet Scott … ” excerpt.

Q What’s your novel about?
A A young sculptor who stumbles into advertising to make a living while he sculpts pieces for his next show, tries to track down his lost girlfriend, worries about his mother’s relationship with a sleazy motivational speaker, and, well, I’m giving too much away.

Q So it’s autobiographical?
A It is not autobiographical! I use elements from my life. All fiction writers do. (And those using my life had better stop it.)

Q What makes your novel funny?
A If I had to guess, the voice of the first-person narrator.

Q Do I have to re-read your excerpt? I know it by heart.
A Just couldn’t stay in character for the entire Q&A, could you?

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