Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There's a great book by Muriel Spark called "A Far Cry From Kensington" about a woman who works in a publishing house.

I read it a number of years ago, and two things (a stupendous number, by my standards) have stuck with me.

One is the phrase "pisseur de copie" which the main character hisses at one of the company's hack writers as she passes him in a park. It's presented as one of those moments of liberating revolt we all experience from time to time (most recently a friend of mine who, faced with yet another stonewalling Czech bureaucratic type refusing to do anything to assist her said - in fluent Czech - 'I understand about your regulations. But you're a cow.' ) The sort of moment that leaves you both pleased and appalled at your own sheer gall.

The other thing I remember is the advice the main character gives a would-be author (a retired British admiral, if I recall correctly) who is having trouble making himself write. She tells him to get a cat. A cat, she says, will curl up on his desk and sleep, providing the tranquil atmosphere necessary to composition.

I've been thinking about this advice this morning, as I sit at my desk attempting to 'compose' while my cats re-enact the Battle of Guadalcanal around me.

I think my mistake was in assuming twice the cat would mean twice the tranquility. This, for all of you would-be writers out there, is not so.


Anonymous said...

if you can swing two cats you don't need no life coach

maire said...

that's the most encouraging thing i've heard in YEARS!