As most of you know, for about three years now good ol' Abbie the Cat has a blog which gets updated every now and then. There's no advertising for it; everything is strictly word-of-mouth. Most of my projects are like that. Some things just seem cooler if they're Your Little Secret, y'know?
Rules for Cat Writing
I have a set of rules that I developed when I created the blog back in March of 2001. They must be followed for a post in Abbie's blog to get published. More or less. I won't bore you with all of the rules, just a few:
Rule #1 is No Projecting Through The Cat ("Boy the guy sure looks lonely, I bet he wishes someone would give him some smoochies")
Rule #2 is No Cutesy Cat Puns ("Wow today was meowy purr-fect!")
Rule #3 is Under Absolutely No Circumstances Will The Cat Refer To Me As "Daddy." (No example needed cause I've already written two things in parentheses that nearly made me retch.)
There's more to it than that, involving writing how I feel a cat would observe the world (he's self-centered which is why he never refers to Martha by name, only by "the other cat" cause that's what he considers her to be) and at times it seems almost like creative dogma (catma? Shit, about to break Rule #2) but I'd like to think the cat's developed his own voice over time. I'm trying to keep the writing style balanced between cat-like typing and sheer typographical nightmare.
I do get all gleepy inside anytime someone notes a Don Marquis influence, for I do admit his Archy & Mehitabel stories and poems are a source of great inspiration and creative influence, especially the near stream-of-consciousness style of writing (Abbie makes more typographical mistakes than Archy, who as a cockroach must jump on each typewriter key to write so at least his aim is good.)
And every now and then Eloise pops up -- I think it was Toon who said she felt it was like Archy & Mehitabel crossed with Kay Thompson's Eloise, which was another right fine compliment. (I just recently remembered Eloise signs her name much like Abbie does: "Me Eloise" and I'm trying to figure out if I remembered that outright, or if it just slipped in under my subconscious to come back up when writing the character.)
I figured the dogma was working because every time I did a little ego Google (egoogle?) I'd find someone else who'd linked the blog and said "This isn't like those other cat blogs out there..." or "If a cat really did keep a blog, this is what it would be like." Those are right fine compliments and I take 'em with a blush and an aw shucks and I usually go over and chuck the cat under the chin and go "You know what, buddy? You're famous. You have lots of friends all over." And he just either takes the chin-chucking and cat-smiles (doing that eyes half-closed thing) or he gets up because I'm bothering him and goes elsewhere to sleep.
Famous people what dig Abbie
And then there are famous people I respect and/or admire and/or think are pretty darn cool who've mentioned the cat before. This is what strokes the ego quite a bit.
Sarah Dyer of Action Girl comics fame (and writing Space Ghost episodes with Evan Dorkin fame and other cool stuff fame) said "It reminds me of one of my favorite childood reads, I, Scheherazade, if it had been written by Kay Thompson rather than Douglass Parkhirst." See? Another Eloise ref. Not bad.
Diane Duane, author of the Young Wizards series, has Abbie linked on her personal blog. I'm considering this a total honor because her two books about cat wizards, The Book of Night with Moon and To Visit The Queen are two of my all-time favorite cat books because she knows cats. She gets 'em. She knows how they relate to people. Plus she took the way cats sit and interact around each other and created houssh, which is a "sort of cat chess" involving positions of power and influence and the ability to see without being seen. Cat placement is strategy there. I dig that.
And a few Constant Readers tipped me off today that no less an august blogging personage as Wonkette has given Abbie props on her front page for a little thing he wrote about the DNC last week. I've known Wonkette dug the cat because when ego surfing a while back, I found an interview she gave where she dropped his name in a list that answered the question "What makes you laugh?" But she'd never mentioned him in her blog, and now she has. Very cool. I am quite flattered.
Before we go, here are some common misconceptions about the cat that I've found while Googling:
1. Abbie is a girl cat. I know he doesn't refer to himself with third-person pronouns all that often, but you'd think the ol "I AM THE KING I AM THE KING I AM THE KING i have no testickals" post would've been a tip-off. Last year when I was developing the "Abbie falls in love" storyline (and subsequently dropped entirely because A: he was rushed to the vet in the middle of it, prompting Martha's first takeover and B: I couldn't find a way to end the storyline without being mean to Tish's cat Coriander, with whom Abbie was smitten) there were a few blogs who mentioned how cool and progressive it was for Abbie to be falling in love with the cat of the same gender. I didn't have the heart to break it to them that, well, while I agreed with 'em, it wasn't the case for ol' Abs. I very rarely comment in these blogs because I already feel like a weirdo for ego-surfing in (I always cringe because I just know my Google referrer with search term will have found its way into the blog's logs, and I know bloggers just looooooooove checking their referrers) and I feel as if it's almost an invasion through the Fourth Wall or something to be like "I found this blog entry by searching for my name." Anyway.
2. Martha is the human. At least one site has it listed like that! I think it's kinda cute but kinda weird, cause Martha definitely makes her cat presence known in her entries (complaining that Abbie's hogging the catbox when it's her turn, getting offended when someone says black cats are bad luck, etc.) But maybe that assumption was made after a quick perusal of the site, and might be fixed if the person read any further. Either way it's fine with me, cause the URL is spelled correctly.
For some reason I really dislike having cats use the word "human." It sounds so artificial to me. The meaning and the feeling keep ping-ponging from Bad Attempt At Cat Blog What Breaks All My Rules to Crazy Science-Fiction Intonation ("Feed us our kitty kibble, Hu-Man, and tell us more of this Earth custom you call Tu-Na-Fish.") It's why I use "guy" -- it feels more, well, vague. And better.
3. Abbie doesn't know what a freakin spellcheck is! We got a lot of those letters Back In The Day. Oddly enough nobody seems to mail the cat anymore. Either that or it's getting spamtrapped. I used to make sure the cat replied, in character, to every email sent, be it good or bad. Except spam. We don't reply to spam, even as hilarious as it would be for Abbie to reply to the Nigerian scammers. Maybe some day I'll choose a pet scammer and try to see how far he'll go even when Abbie keeps talking cat talk at him. But not tonight.
At any rate, yes, Abbie knows what a spellchecker is, but he just doesn't bother to use it because he's a cat and cats don't need to second-guess themselves. (Fun Fact: Most of the atrocious spelling in Abbie's blog is accomplished simply by typing really really really really fast and then not going back to make corrections -- though artistic liberty has been taken every now and then to deliberately make a misspelling if a letter omitted from a word makes the word look funny enough. The official explanation is that cats have big paws that can sometimes hit more than one key, or not enough.)
Anyway. This big furry throw rug of a cat is my bestest buddy in the whole wide world. I've had him ever since he was a wee tiny kitten. Some times when I've been low he's just curled up alongside me and put his head on my foot and sighed, and suddenly the world isn't such a bad place. Other times he'll pull some stunt and do something so preposterous (like binging on the catnip while I was at work and then hiding, stoned out of his gourd, half under the couch) I can't get mad at him for all the laughing. Frankly he's given me so much happiness and good cheer by just being a big funky cat that I felt like I had to share that with others. So, uh, without getting too mushy (keep yer boots off) I just want to say thank you to everybody who reads my silly cat blog or wears shirts with his picture on them or tells other people about it or quotes favorite lines and and and stuff. Yeah. I'm just glad the darn thing makes a lot of other people happy too.
So that's the cat. I'm gonna go bug him now with a few chin-chucks.