Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writing lizards

Many writers are cat people. Their websites and blogs are choked with cutsie photos of the furry monsters walking on their laptops, perched on their WIPs, or draped across their laps. I have nothing against cats. I just don't want anything more self-centred than I am sharing my space.

Other writers are dog people. Now dogs I can live with. Compared to most other species they're brilliant, fun-loving creatures that just keep on giving. I don't own one any more, but even if I did it wouldn't qualify as a writing dog because much as I love 'em, I love 'em outdoors. Maybe it's a temperate zone thing that many of us in the tropics can't possibly comprehend, but I shudder when I read about writers sharing their houses, offices, and even their bedrooms with their flea-ridden curs beloved fur-bags.

I've got writing lizards. They're not exactly pets but they're always around when I'm writing late at night, crawling around the walls and rafters, pursuing moths and other insects attracted by the lights. When insects are plentiful, as in the rainy season when rain flies descend on the house and mob the lights, the lizards go crazy, stuffing themselves to the point where their abdomens are so extended that the skin is transparent and I fully expect them to pop and leave a nasty mess for me to clean.

They're remarkably resilient. I've often sat hunched over the keyboard, deep into my story, only to be startled by a loud 'plop' as one of them catapults off a rafter on to the floor where it sits for a moment looking slightly dazed and more than a little stupid, then crawls off none the worse for wear. Now if I dropped from a rafter many times my height... Nasty mess doesn't begin to describe it.

Their mating ritual is, um, interesting. The male (I assume) stalks the female around the wall for awhile, then there's some brusque tail grabbing and scrambling and it's done. Often the pair fall off the wall in the throes of their passion and dart away in different directions so I'm hard put to tell whether the marriage has been consummated or not.

My lizards are no-nonsense creatures, busy feeding and mating and going about the business of life, and I find this motivational as I sit there going about the business of writing. They don't loaf around waiting for inspiration to catch spiders. They don't wait for some lizard muse to drop tidbits into their mouths. They're unsentimental, lying there in the glow of the sconces and gulping inanely, then transforming into predatory stealth-machines as they stalk their prey on padded feet, followed by a swift dart, a gulp, and then the self-satisfied march behind the picture frame, a wing or wriggling feet protruding from their jaws. They break the monotony of concentration for me and provide a bit of comic relief as I observe their antics for a while, then I return to my story and am lost to the world once more - until a sudden movement or a 'plop' brings me back to earth.

I wouldn't trade my lizards for your writing cats, not even if you added a nice cash incentive. Now a significant cash incentive is another matter. Have your people call my people. A major incentive? Here's my cell number...

Liane Spicer


Phyllis Bourne said...

You cool writing lizards make my writing cactus, seem boring!

Leatherdykeuk said...

I could live with Lizards, but there are none in England.

Genella deGrey said...

I have a five year-old. That's about all I can handle.

Liane Spicer said...

Phyllis, you've got a prickly muse there... No wonder you work so hard!

Leatherdykeuk, now why didn't I know that? I somehow thought they were everywhere. They're really easy to live with - no litter box, no kibbles, no vet visits, no walking required, and they eat any bugs that come indoors.

Genella, I can well imagine! How mothers of small children do any writing at all is beyond me.

Marissa Monteilh said...

LMAO, Liane, I was so into that post. From the "plops" to the mating rituals - I'm not willing to commit to a dog or cat at this point in my life, but a writing lizard or two, yes, please tell your people to expect a call from my people - - tomorrow :-)

Liane Spicer said...

Marissa, will do! We've got lots to spare! :)