Spring Semester and a note about cats

The first day of Spring Semester -- and campus is closed due to inclement weather. Freezing rain, lots of snow, that kind of stuff. I got a text message at 6am from school, laughed maniacally, and went back to bed. Or tried to. I had something to eat, poked around online to look at what some of my classes had in store (horror), and finally threw the covers back over my head around 8:30 AM. Boo Boo judges me from atop the bookshelf as I pull the covers over my head in an attempt to sleep the day away...

As it stands now I’m looking at 15 credits. Full time. I have gone back and forth of what science class to take. I started with Astronomy, dropped it promptly; then tried (and cried a lot) Geography. I found it painfully boring, frustrating, useless to me personally, and my teacher was Type-A, “What’s 17 + 17?” Stares at you until you sweat, then writes it out like you’re an idiot (because you are without a calculator). I couldn’t find a lab partner in Geography (all of my peers were 17-20 years old, and I am not a social person), and so I ended up crying at the end of every lab. I wish that was an exaggeration. I’m thin-skinned, “overly sensestive” people like to describe me as. I refer to myself as “constantly dialed to 11” where my emotions never really turn off, I take everything personally, I’m a people-pleaser, afraid to fail, horrible at Math and self-conscious.

This semester I thought I’d try Geology. Rocks. Then I realized, it was the same teacher, and that I’d be in the exact same situation. So I dropped that like a hot rock. I was getting towards the end of science classes to hate. I finally decided on Biology. It described itself as “for non science majors” (me!), and that it included things like the Animal Kingdom and DNA. I recalled some of that from my Anthropology class, figured there couldn’t be too much Math in it, and at the very least the subject matter might keep me engaged.

Then it got better--and worse. I found out my friend was also in the Lab, so I’d have a guaranteed-not-an-idiot Lab Partner who I could talk to (the most important part, idiot or otherwise!). Also, a different teacher.

Then class started and I’m listening to a pre-class lecture, and the teacher starts describing a required dissection. Fuck. Yes, I’ll have to participate in the dissection of fetal pig. My Lab Partner, in her infinite understanding me said, “I hope you know I’ll be laughing at you the entire time and you’re going to think I’m heartless.” You are a cold-hearted bitch, but I knew that already. You cut, I’ll try not to vomit.

I suppose I should outline my “final” classes (unless something happens and I drop one of these):

  • Math 025 - Elementary Algebra
  • History 100 - History of Civilization to 1500
  • Trestle Creek Review (the team behind our local campus Literary Magazine)
  • Death and Dying: a Sociocultural, Historical, and Biological Perspective (as taught by my favorite Anthropology teacher as well as another History teacher)

Now, I haven’t taken a History class since High School and that was (I just did the math) 15 years ago. So it’s safe to say that it’s rusty. The truth about history (from my Anthropology classes) is that we’re really, really awful human beings and we’ve done terrible things to each other since the dawn of time. We just keep finding new and interesting things to murder, pillage and conquer over. So -- it’s mostly going to be a pretty depressing class.

Couple history with a Death and Dying class (throw in an agonizing group project), an advanced-for-me Math Class and Biology and you’ve got my own personal Hell (haha) for the next few months.

Writing? What writing? I won’t be doing anything writing related except for essays.

Also it has been cold and snowing like crazy. Random car selfie turned out great. #shameless

I can feel the need to write, but emotionally I can’t get there when I have so many things staring back at me. So many classes, so many things to read and to learn and to study. Videos to watch, lectures to listen to. How do people do this? How can anyone go to college and do normal things like raise a family or have a job or write a fucking manuscript? I have it easy: no children, no family except my immediate ones, just a low-maintanence boyfriend and cat. No traditional job (I make things and try and sell them), no 9-5. And yet I can’t seem to sit down and finish a single project.

I sent out my manuscript to some friends over the Winter Break. One of them responded to me, the rest are crickets in my inbox. Silence. So I am told, “Well, you should just follow-up with them.”

I should follow-up with them. I won’t.

I’m happy to say that the feedback I did receive lines up very closely with the ideas I had myself for revision. “The characters are too flat,” “Who is Ash to Meg, why are they important?” “What is the Terra Prognatus?” I have lots of notes about deepening characters and story and making changes. I just don’t know when I’ll get to make those kinds of changes if I have difficulty focusing on anything other than school now.

I had three weeks off class and all I was able to accomplish, personally, was to re-read my manuscript, take some notes, and set it aside. I was able to listen to and ask questions with one person who did give me feedback and that was a rewarding experience. I wish I would have accomplished more--but what’s done is done. I am not certain how to keep myself focused on anything let alone writing.

So let me see if I can get back to focusing on what I did get done and not focusing on what I “wish” would have happened.

I’ve had this mindset recently where my Trials of Blood/InGifted story is static, that it is off-limits to many of the other story ideas that come floating across my subconscious. It’s hard to explain, but many of the ideas I get -- I automatically want to shove them into this story, and I have mostly denied myself that. Until now. I was playing with my cat and I was thinking of how my favorite stories have animals in it: Mercedes Lackey and her horse Companions, Garth Nix and his cat Mogget and the Disreputable Dog. And I realized, “Write what you know,” and I know my cat.

I know how cats cat. I know how they get under your feet and frustrate the hell out of you and then rub up against you and meow and all is forgiven (to a cat-lover, anyways). And I started to ask myself, “Why not?” Why can’t I have a talking (or telepathic, I’m not sure yet) cat in my blood mage story? Why can’t I roll two things I love together and make some new strain of story? Why do I impose these kinds of limitations on myself?

The “why” doesn’t matter--only that I have agreed that this is something unique to me and my own stories, and while there have many, many instances of anthropomorphic or sentient/godlike creatures contained within animals, I can spin this to be my own. The idea is not unique to the stories I have read--I just have to make this unique to me.

So I was imagining Malisyn sitting across from the fire, and the light reflecting in the eyes of her cat. But is it a cat, or the soul of Transcender that is staring back at her? It could be either or--as these creatures are inhabited by two souls, and in a true-cat-manner, neither can be forced to appear on command. Sometimes, you’ll get the cat, sometimes you’ll get the Transcender. They’ll act as catalysts (CATalysts!) for blood magic by having a blood relic collar (that collar is what effectively keeps the cat-and-Transcender spirit contained within, and when the young blood mage casts magic near the cat, the blood relics will amplify the mage’s own powers.

Many animals were considered for this soul-bonding process, but only the cat was discovered to be able to “handle” the extra inhabitant. Dark ages for Transcenders indeed, to find out what animals worked and what didn’t. But then I have this whole concept of cats riding along in baby swaddles or saddlebags, conversations screamed from horseback,

“Cat! Help me!”

::cat lays in the middle of the road, licking itself::

“Can’t. Busy.”

“You’re just laying there!”

“BUSY.”

Cats are chosen for their keen ability to sense the demons of Transcendence, for their agile bodies and easy transportation. Also, because they’re cute, but that’s not strictly magical. And so when a young blood mage needs to venture into the world, they’re given two mentors--a Guardian, a human companion to protect them, and some (but perhaps not all) are given a cat who is then imbued with the soul of a Transcender connected to that mage by blood.

I have theories about nine lives, collars, magical spells, conversations--all a bit light hearted, by grounded in my world of magic, and something that could fit in seamlessly. It is very much me, and I really look forward to that one blood mage who is terribly allergic to cats but still loves them--

If nothing else: this idea excites me to write, and so I know that when I do return to writing--I'll have something to look forward to. I think I'm going to try balancing revising Earth Borne and working on a new outline for InGifted. I know I want to work away from a "large, world shaking" initial book to smaller, bite-sized adventures (closer to Jennifer Roberson's 'Tiger and Del' series, more focused on character than earth shattering plotlines, those come later!).