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04 October 2017

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Gets A Visitor IWSG


The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"Have you ever slipped any of your own personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.


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Image via The Graphics Fairy

"Simon, where are you?" I looked around for the grouchy, old gray cat that decided to move onto my boat about a year ago. "I've got a surprise for you."

Simon peered out from behind a throw pillow. "It better be a good, lady. Last time you brought me a surprise it was a leash. As if any self-respecting cat would let themselves be taken for a walk," he said with a snarl.

I looked down at the ball of black fur cuddled against my chest. "Look, it's the cat from the boat next to us."

Simon narrowed his eyes and growled.

"You know, Blackberry Jam," I added. "It's on account of the fact that she's got black fur, only her humans call her Jam for short. Isn't that just the cutest name?"

Jam looked up at me and purred at the mention of her name. I put her down on the settee next to Simon. She ran up to him and sniffed his nose by way of greeting.

Simon responded by hissing loudly and swatting her across her nose with his sharp claws.

Jam ran back, jumped on my lap and gave a few pitiful meows. While I stroked her back, I stared at Simon.

"Why are you being so rude to our guest?"

"Who asked you to bring over a guest?" Simon lazily washed behind his ears with his paw. "Besides, lady, that stupid cat isn't even real. She's just a figment of your imagination."

"What are you talking about?" I scratched the top of Jam's head. "She's sitting right here. She's real."

"Oh, come on. You told me once that you used to have a black cat named Jam. You're just using stuff from your real life in this stupid blog post because you're too lazy to make up any new stuff."

I shook my head. "Sure, I had a cat named Jam, but for your information, mister, this Jam is nothing like my cat. See, she's sitting on my lap, purring away. The other Jam was skittish and wouldn't let me get within ten feet of her, unless I was feeding her."

Jam meowed and nudged her head against my hand so that I'd scratch under her chin. She was such a sweet cat. Maybe I could trade her for Simon with my boat neighbors.

"Is you want to delude yourself about that stupid cat, go right ahead." Simon stretched out on the settee. " But, how do you explain the main character in that stupid cozy mystery novel you always claim to be working on? She's just like you."

"What do you mean? She's nothing like me!"

"Of course she is. She's obsessed with chocolate, she thinks aliens are real and she's not very good at sailing. Sound familiar, lady?"

I decided I didn't like the direction this conversation was taking. "You know what Simon, you go ahead and stay in here and be grumpy all by yourself. I'm going to use that leash of yours and take Jam for a walk."

Jam meowed excitedly at the sight of the leash and eagerly let me fasten it on her. As I started to carry her up on deck, Simon called out, "Hey, while you're out get some more milk, lady. And make sure it's the full-fat kind, not that stupid skim milk you always try to pawn off on me."

If you're a writer, do you slip personal information into your characters? Which cat would you prefer to live with - Simon or Jam? What's your favorite cat or dog names?

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63 comments:

  1. Excellent post Ellen. I agree whole-heartedly with the excellent discussion. Impressions of life sneak in whether we mean them to or not. My favorite cat name is my Maverick. I call him Mavie for short and he is quite the character :)

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  2. I like Blackberry Jam! What a nice kitty with a fun name. Should pets be human names like Simon or fun names like Jib, Spinnaker? We met some cocker spaniels called Trinidad and Tobago, I thought that was really cute. It kinda makes me want to adopt 6 animals so they could all have perfect names!

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    1. Trinidad and Tobago are fantastic pet names! Of course, you'd have to have two pets of the same kind. You just couldn't have a Trinidad or a Tobago. Wouldn't make sense :-)

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  3. I think it's a really cute name. We always give our cats cartoon names - Calvin & Hobbes, Rocko & Spunky, and now Star Lord and Rocket.

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    1. I've seen the photos of your new cats and they are adorable :-)

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  4. Hee hee! I love the name Blackberry Jam! But I don't think either of the tortoises would be up for changing theirs. :)

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    1. I'm sure your tortoises have excellent names.

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  5. "Of course she is. She's obsessed with chocolate, she thinks aliens are real and she's not very good at sailing. Sound familiar, lady?"

    Hahahaha. I laughed for real, at this part. Great post. So fun.

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  6. I love the name Jam. I like either really weird or very plain, human-sounding names for a pet, thought whatever you use it needs to be something you're not embarrassed to yell out at the park.

    When I was a kid I wanted to name our dog Mercutio, but none of my family could pronounce it. We settled on Romeo, which is a fine, but not what I was going for.

    IWSG October

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    1. You'll have to get a new animal and name it Mercutio.

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  7. Jam is cute and sounds easy to live with. Simon is opinionated and grumpy. I think he'd be the most interesting to keep reading about

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    1. Interesting - I was thinking people might be getting tired of reading about Simon, but maybe not.

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  8. Love the story, but Simon is a grouchy cat. Very grouchy and demanding cat.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. He sure can be a pain in the you know what.

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  9. Fabulous! SImon reminds me a little bit of Garfield (my eldest progeny is big into that comic right now). Can't wait to read the cozy mystery novel when it comes out so I can learn all about you! ;) Great post. Thank you.

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    1. Hopefully, I'm not too much like my main character. She's kind of a strange one.

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  10. LOL I love all your imaginary friends! And Blackberry Jam is such a cute name for a cat! A neighbor saw my cat one day (who is a tortie) and said she had a cat just like her that was named Peanut Butter. I've been contemplating changing my cat's name to Peanut Butter ever since.

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    1. Peanut Butter is a great name for a tortie. Or maybe Reeses Cup since their fur has dark brown and lighter brown in it.

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  11. Ellen, I LOVE your creative posts!
    Blackberry Jam sounds like one of those modern brands of nail polish...LOL
    Happy IWSG Day, Ellen!

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    1. It does sound like a nail polish color. I bet nail polish color names would be a good source for pet names.

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  12. *LOL* Ah, even grumpy Simon is adorable. I definitely put bits of myself into my characters. It helps to make them more authentic.

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    1. He can be adorable if he wants, but only on his terms.

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  13. I think Jam should go sit on that grumpy cat!

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    1. She should. She should make him love her by being a complete pest :-)

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  14. Ah, we would have a few cats, if my husband weren't allergic to them. He keeps adopting them, and then we have to give them away to family friends because he can no longer breathe. But we have three dogs! My favorite dog name is Inu. It's the name I've given to my past three dogs. It means dog in Japanese.

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    1. I'm allergic to cats too, but that hasn't stopped me in the past :-) Love the name Inu and the idea of calling a dog Dog in another language.

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  15. LOL - I think I have a Simon in my house. She does allow us to cuddle her now and then, but she looks with disdain on all of my writing (it's distracting from the important things, like letting her in and out of the door repetitively).
    Happy writing!

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    1. What is with cats and having to constantly go in and out of the house?

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  16. Jam is a cute name. I give bits and pieces of myself to my characters all the time.

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    1. I think it's hard not to have part of you come out in characters in some shape or form.

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  17. Simon has spunk, and that makes me like him a great deal. Jam on the other hand seems like the kind of cat you could spend all sorts of quality time hanging with.

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    1. The real Jam never liked hanging around with us, but this imaginary Jam, well she's a real cuddly cat.

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  18. Jam seems more cozy than Simon, but they make a great double act.

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  19. What a clever and enjoyable way to answer this month's question! I loved it.

    Both of our cats are more like Jam... only they aren't black. Just sweet and cuddly. (With lots of sibling rivalry issues...)

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  20. You Simon is such a grouch. Reminds me of someone I know... Not a cat though

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    1. Funny how cats can remind you of different people in real life.

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  21. Definitely Jam, but the cats we had tended more towards Simon.

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    1. I've had a mix of cuddly Jam times and grumpy Simon types.

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  22. Enjoyable and creative way to answer the question! Yes, we all let some of real life sneak in.

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    1. Hard not to let real life into our stories.

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  23. Love the way you answered the question! Very clever!

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  24. Hi Ellen,
    Simon is the more realistic. A jam would be nice, but I'm not sure she'd survive in our household!

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  25. You are such a good story teller and creative IWSG question answerer, Ellen! Blackberry Jam as a cat name. I love it! Of course, I would prefer her to Simon. I'm not good with names. But, we have talked about our two future dogs and plan to call them Kuna and Yala. Kuna Yala is the local name for the San Blas islands. :-)

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  26. I'd probably prefer Jam. Having a lap cat who enjoys being rubbed is always a good thing. And Simon would probably try to talk to me every time I sat down to write.

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    1. That's one of the problem with Simon, he can speak English and is always yammering away at you when you don't want him to. Jam just meows quietly occasionally. :-)

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  27. You always make me chuckle. Good post. The main OC of my novelette series does share some characteristics with me, and more that I'd like to have (like her rock and roll werewolf boyfriend!). Be well!

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Darla. Glad I gave you a chuckle :-)

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  28. Jam and Simon sound like my cats fighting. I would go with Jam, she sounds like a good cuddler like my Sawyer. Although, Sawyer would never let me put him on a leash :)

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    1. Sawyer is a great cat name! I'm not sure many cats would suffer the indignity of a leash.

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  29. So true! It's impossible not to project ourselves and what we know. Great post.

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  30. Ha, you really captured cats there.
    I do love that name. My cats were named Shadowfax and Cortana.

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    1. Those are great cat name. I especially like Shadowfax. It's fun to say out loud.

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  31. Haha, I'd take both. I love cats. Recently, we had to send our two precious cats to live with our son because we're moving too far away. Broke my heart. Their names are Marbles and Shasta, and sometimes I hear them purring. Lovely post.

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    1. It's so hard to have to give up one's pets. I remember when we had to leave our dog and cats behind when we moved overseas. Very sad day.

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  32. Jam, of course. But I'm wondering if Simon is telling the truth about her being fictional...rare is the cat who will willingly walk on a leash. ;)

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