The day after I wrote my last post, a few hours after it auto-posted, I found out that I needed to put my cat to sleep. I did the deed on Wednesday.
If you've never had to do this, you probably don't understand just how emotionally devastating this process can be. You go through various stages from grief to guilt to agony to obliteration. During all of this, I tried to get out my weekly words, and I'm writing a comedy. So. That happened. But, you know, I can't lose a week. Not if I can help it. I have to keep working. I have to get something down. I have to get my submission into writers group.
I squeezed out something like the bare minimum of text I could produce and not call the week a total loss, and then I decided that I needed to finish with something that was genuinely productive. I had to find a way to turn the personal pain into a net gain. To make it work for me, because screw pain. Pain is my bitch.
When I started writing Death by Cliché 2, I knew that I was going to tell an epic hero's journey story with a cat in DbC 3. So I introduced the cat in DbC 2 as a "Chekov's cat" sort of writing device. I also introduced several other characters in what seemed like self-indulgent vignettes, that would actually play an important part in DbC 3. Then, in DbC 3, Cat is one of the important characters, carrying an important load-bearing wall of the plot with him throughout the book.
A third, maybe halfway through the book, I discovered my cat had diabetes. Never one to pass up any excuse for a chapter quote, I did a riff or three about giving cats shots and how diabetes affected his appetite. How the insulin changed his personality. I would like to hope that any cat person becomes at least a little attached to the journey that my cat took through those chapter quotes. I know some people on twitter did.
So after I had my bare minimum chapters written for DbC 4 I went back and tossed out the epilogue of DbC 3. It was crap anyway and I'd always suspected that I'd need to rewrite it. Instead, I wrote a chapter quote stating that I'd just returned from the vet, and about three hundred words that I hope are a touching good bye. I finished with an In Memoriam, so now the book has a dedication, and now the reader knows how that story actually ended.
I had plans that Cat from book three would be in book four, at least in part, but the place I left him was not unlike heaven for cats, and I think there he will stay. Happy. Forever.
Or at least until the world needs to be saved again. For all cat kind.