Writing, Cats, and a Friendly Octopus by Mae Clair

Opie1Say hello to Opie, my writing cheerleader, taskmaster, cute companion and occasional muse.

He showed up on my doorstep several years ago when I was working on a short story involving a hagfish.

If you’re not sure what a hagfish is, think of a fat, eel-like creature capable of producing massive amounts of slime.

Sound cuddly? And my story wasn’t about just any garden variety hagfish, but a colossal mutant with a fondness for underwater submersibles. Um, did I mention I didn’t always write romance? 😀

A friend of mine sent Opie along as inspiration. Granted he’s more octopus than hagfish (who really wants a pet that engulfs its victims in slime before devouring them), but  I was instantly smitten. Seriously, who could resist those turquoise blue eyes and floppy tentacles? And that bulbous head was just meant for repeated patting.Opie Crop

Opie immediately commandeered a corner of my desk and has clung there tenaciously. Since I no longer have a cat to keep me company, Opie has become the critter who dominates my work area when I’m writing.

But it wasn’t always that way.

My cats each had a favorite means of making their presence known when I was in a creative zone. Any good feline worth a disdainful tail twitch knows that’s the opportune time to demand attention. Feeding time, cuddling time, play time, whatever. Cats have an innate strategy gene and know how to employ it.


Onyx sunbathing. He was such a good cat…they all were!

McDoogal liked to curl up on my lap, which was actually nice until my legs started falling asleep. Onyx preferred strolling across the keyboard and posing in front of the screen. But Arafel…leave it to a female to be the queen of distraction. Her tactic involved sitting beside my chair and meowing. At least that’s how it started, but eventually those soft plaintive meows transitioned into a caterwaul it was impossible to ignore. In a test of wills, Arafel always won.

Opie is far less intrusive but I know he’s there. Watching, encouraging, inspiring. And yes, distracting, when I get caught up in his excess of cuteness. 😀

How about you? Do you have a pet who demands attention when you’re working or a desk mascot that inspires you?

19 thoughts on “Writing, Cats, and a Friendly Octopus by Mae Clair

  1. Maggie has started to get comfortable on my shoulder or arm, which is all well and good until my arm falls asleep. Obviously, this is no good for writing 🙂

    Opine is so cute! Who would think an octopus could be that adorable!


    • I’m currently without a pet right now too, Stanalei, so I have to stick with Opie. At some point in the future I’ll be ready for another cat who will hopefully hang out with me when I write. Animals make such great companions for authors 🙂


  2. I like Opie – good name — I don’t have any four legged pets I used to have two fluffy toy mouse on my desk — one blue and one orange. I see they’re gone now – in the latest round of get rid of stuff and try and keep the place tidy and clean. I still have some stuffed toys but they don’t function as muses.


    • I bet the mice were cute, Sue 🙂 I always have to have something silly and fun hanging around on my desk. I did a lot of that cleaning out too when I moved into my new den. It was amazing to sort through all the stuff I’d collected.


  3. No pets here, but a busy, busy 2.5yo! At least the 4yo is off at kindergarten now, so if I can get the boy to play with trains or go bother his Grammie, I’m good to write! LOL!
    Love Opie, but Onyx takes the cake. That looks like the life right there, basking in the sun while mommy writes. How wonderful!


    • You definitely have your hands full with an energetic toddler, Jessi. With Onyx, once he strolled across my keyboard a few times, he was content to sprawl on the floor by my chair and blink lazily at me. He was a mellow muse, LOL


    • Arafel was the queen of making it known when feeding time arrived. It’s amazing how loud they can be, isn’t it? And I loved naming them…they all seemed to fit with their personalities 🙂


  4. Ah, ha! When I saw that title I had to comment. I have five cats who all want some of my time. Sometimes they just hang out on the copy machine, or the carpeted shelf my husband built near the ceiling. Sometimes they sit right next my computer and demand petting or on my lap or walk over my keyboard with their butt in my face. I love them. I didn’t mean to have five cats, again. Although, I will admit to being a bit of a cat lady. There are so many strays in our area it’s heartbreaking.

    One early morning my husband woke up and said, “They’re all here.” And I said, “not Junior.” Since I couldn’t see him.

    “He’s over here, licking my head.” So we had all five cats on the bed and the two dogs. Good thing we have a California King.


    • Your story makes me laugh, Mary. The stroll across the keyboard, butt in the face thing is so typical of cats. Wow, you really do have a houseful! Between five cats and two dogs. I can just imagine all of them snuggled up on the bed, vying for attention!


  5. Mae – It seems to me that Opie probably requires a dusting now and then whereas your wonderful living creatures were able to remind you of their presence with nothing more than a meow or swish of their tail.
    We don’t have a cat at the present time and we know we can’t go to a rescue because we’d come home with one and possibly two or three. We both miss having a cat or three but now is not a good time.
    Our shih Tzu dogs have their own demands and if their dinner isn’t served up promptly at 5:30 they are quick to let me know. Tom’s dog, Scooter, will not eat without his placemat and designated china plate. My dog, Miss Priss, will not eat if the wet food is touching the dry food. Priss also has her own placemat but she prefers one of ecru hues and perhaps a bit of tatting around the edges. And, well, china also makes everything perfect for her as well.
    Did I mention that we cook organically for both of them.


    • Scooter and Miss Priss sound like they definitely enjoy the finer things in life, LOL. I spoiled all three of my cats in any manner I could, although I have to admit I didn’t cook for them. Fortunately, Onyx didn’t care for anything beyond dry food, so he was super simple to care for.

      I like Miss Priss’ choice in placements. Clearly, a lady of defining taste 😀


  6. I only have one cat left – we had to say goodbye to Jaguar in Jan last year – but Mercedes was 19 beginning of Nov so she is a very grand old lady who is part HOWLER MONKEY when she doesn’t get what she wants.

    When they were tiny baby kittens at barely 6 weeks we could hear them purring across the room and we (I) instantly knew it had to be those two. And their names just appeared because they sound like high-performance engines when they purr & rumble.

    I am not a writer but Jaguar was a crazy cuddler! As soon as I sat down she was on my lap. In winter I had to turn the furnace down cause with the cat and the blanket I was sweating! In the summer she didn’t care if I had shorts on – she wanted to climb and rub her paws on my bare legs! Oh I do miss her – I used to complain about it and now I want it back. *sigh* Mercedes likes to cuddle while sleeping – she lies beside my head to start out then when I am done rubbing her head she moves and sleeps on top of me!

    SPOILT OLD LADY! (all my fault)


    • What grand cats! I’m sorry to hear you lost Jaguar. All three of mine are gone now too and I miss them terribly. I had Arafel and McDoogal together, then after they passed, I got Onxy. Arafel and McDoogal were both 15 when I Iost them. Onyx came later and he lived thirteen years before cancer claimed him.

      I’m like you…some of the things I used to complain about I miss now. Mercedes sounds much like Arafel with the howler monkey description (what a great description, LOL).

      And I love cats who cuddle. All three of mine did. I’m glad you still have Mercedes. Spoiled or not, she sounds wonderful.:D Thanks for sharing, Heather!


  7. Emerson, my shihtzu likes to sleep in my lap at the desk. Sometimes he snores. Once or twice he’s fallen into such a deep sleep he almost rolls off my lap and into the desk. He’s been here for every manuscript I wrote. 🙂


    • Emerson is definitely a writer’s dog…and it sounds like he’s part of the creative process too. I know I always wrote more comfortably when my cats were hanging out with me. Just having them there was a treat (even when they were demanding attention, LOL!)


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