I write with a cat on my lap. I suspect many writers do. This one, part Siamese, is mostly white, except for her ears and tail, where a portion of brindle markings show up (“brindle,” or what Americans call “Calico,” and Australians—Assistant Executive Editor Carolyn Roberts informs me—definitely know are called “Tabbies”). Because I have a specially-angled work station for my laptop, writing with the cat means squishing her in place between my thighs and the angled platform that keeps my laptop at an appropriate position for avoiding permanent curvature of the spine.
This cat is a talker. She lopes into my office and gurgles to sit on me as I work. When I head in that direction, she runs ahead of me, hoping I’ll sit down. If I take too many trips immediately in and out, to pick up a pair of scissors, or my address book, or a pen, she tears around the office and sala like a maniac, showing her disappointment. An impetus to get my book done? No, not really. This work station in my office is where I do client work, and work on SOL, and my other website, and answer email, and research web book marketing, and avoid writing by messing around on Facebook, and…
I write my memoir-in-progress, A Little Mormon Girl, in the over-sized red chintz chair in my sala. I’m writing at least the initial half of its projected 80,000 words by hand—knowing I’ll do the first of many, many edits and polishes as I enter the hand-written draft into a Word document.
But the red chintz chair gives me a double cat problem. My mostly-white marginally Siamese has a pure calico sister—a cat’s cat. Both cats insist upon sitting on my lap when I’m in my red chintz chair. So writing there is a balancing act between completing my 1500-minimum words per day, five days a week, and not disturbing the cats. For the two to three hours it takes me to accomplish this, I write with my notebook perched at an angle on the broad arms of the chair.
Putting the November issue of SOL: English Writing in Mexico together this month was sort of a cat-on-lap balancing experience, too. There was so much material I wanted to “squish” into the issue. By that, I don’t mean I edited any of it down: I just loved what we had, and made it the biggest issue ever—one that will contribute to the hard-cover book of selections from SOL we’re putting out early next year.
I find myself saying, each time we put up a new issue of SOL, “This is the best issue yet!” It’s probably not true—every issue has been outstanding, with writers like Tony Cohan, C.M. Mayo, Teresa Nicholas, Bill Pearlman, James Cervantes and so many other excellent wordsmiths. But all of our editors are saying it again: This is the best issue! November 2011 has book excerpts by Christopher Cook, Gerard Helferich, Susan McKinney de Ortega, and Joseph Dispenza. It has poetry by Bill Pearlman, Sheila Murphy, Wendy Carlisle, and Laura Merleau; and other terrific short stories and literary nonfiction pieces.
And, as it is our goal to publish established writers as well as promising “new” writers, we’re happy to introduce two new writers in this issue: Carol Merchasin, with a finely crafted humorous essay; and Susan J. Cobb, as our End Paper author.
All in all, it’s been some pretty nice cat squishing.
Eva Hunter, Executive Editor, SOL: English Writing in Mexico