Friday, June 18, 2010

Prey animals

My harshest editor weighs only 4.2 pounds. He waits for me each morning, eager to read over my shoulder. Occasionally he stomps the delete key, erasing whole paragraphs and forcing me to rethink a scene. A grumpy old man trapped in the body of a cuddly bunny, he always thinks I could do better, start earlier, and write more. Except for this Monday, when he wasn’t waiting, already annoyed at my lateness. Instead he sat on his litter box, lethargic and unwilling to move. I raced to the call the vet, frantic at what could happen.

For those of you that don’t know a rabbit intimately, here are a few common aliments and their outcomes:

Illness Outcome
Pink eyedeath
Nose colddeath
Stomach upsetdeath
Torn Toe Naildeath

I’m exaggerating but only a little. Rabbits are prey animals. They make wonderful pets and great writing companions, but veterinary medicine can only do so much to extend their fragile lives.

Is your writing a prey animal? If you hit a stopping point in the middle of a new manuscript does the whole piece die? What if you turn out a clunky, poorly worded sentence, is that a cause for certain death?

Is your health a prey animal? If you find that running isn’t for you, does that mean you give up on all your plans to start exercising? If you can’t find a healthy breakfast do you kill the rest of the day by eating bad-for-you-food?

I can only do so much to keep my furry editor alive. Healthy food in the right amounts, a clean living environment, and lots of love will extend his natural lifetime from one year to ten times that amount. Thankfully, healthy writing doesn’t have short lifespan.

Writing can be made stronger, through classes and workshops, or just plain writing more. You can resurrect works that have lain nearly dead for years by getting a fresh pair of eyes to make suggestions. You may need to amputate bad scenes or even cut away everything but the healthy subplots, but there’s always something you can do.

You can do the same for your health by not letting yourself be stopped by little problems. It’s fun to daydream about how much weight you’ll lose and how fit you’ll look when you join a new gym, but don’t let those dreams go because the membership is too expensive. Don’t stop yourself from seeking out ways to get enough sleep, relax at the end of the day, or eat a healthy meal. Find ways around problems instead of giving into them.

As of Monday afternoon, my editor was waiting for our usual after-work rereading session. The tummy trouble brought on by indulging in sweets cleared up before his vet could work him into the schedule. I don’t know how many more mornings I’ll have with him, but I know I’ll work hard to make as many of them happen as I can, the same way I’ll work hard to keep my writing and my health.


Michelle Butler on June 18, 2010 at 9:32 AM said...

Yes, perseverance can be the key. I need to remind myself of that at times. :)

Sally Kilpatrick on June 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM said...

Aw, what a cute bunny! I've never had a rabbit for a pet, but I can just imagine what my parakeet would have had to say about it!

Those are some good thoughts about not letting setbacks be as detrimental to us as torn toe nails are to bunnies. It never hurts to be reminded not to let the small stuff get us down.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM said...

I'm glad your bunny is better, Rachel.

You have some very good reminders here. While it's good to look at the big picture, sometimes I think we forget to look at big things we're trying to tackle in small chunks -- small bits to revise, 10 minutes of exercise versus none. They move us closer to the end goal, even if it is at a slower pace.

Keri Mikulski on June 18, 2010 at 5:02 PM said...

So happy your bunny is feeling better.. Hugs.

So true!! :)

Vicky on June 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM said...

Oh, my goodness. I have a bunny, too! Twice, Buttercup succumbed to Rabbit Anorexia and both times, her vet saved her life. She's 6 years old now and still dances round my feet every morning while I serve her a tablespoon of pellets. I'm super careful about her diet - only a pinch of pellets and tons of hay. Buttercup is an all white mini-lop and lives in the house with us. Love her bunches.

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