Barbara Wallace and Squeak...
Two years ago our cat Squeak contracted a cuterebra investation. (Warning: this may gross you out!) The cuterebra is a large fly that lays eggs in the nests of rodents and rabbits. The larva, which look like small worms, hatch from the eggs when exposed to the heat of the nearby animal. Curious cats and dogs can come into contact with the eggs or larva when they explore the nest.
|Squeak when aka DK (Demented Kitty)|
You read that right. Our cat had flies gestating in her brain.
Many exorbitant (as in my husband may never recover) vet bills later, Squeak was cured. But the worms left their damage. The cat that came home from the vet was nothing more than a furry shell. She spent her days staring vacantly at the wall or walking aimlessly in circles. If you picked her up, she went limply wherever you put her. She forgot how to groom. We took to dropping her in the swimming pool to clean the medicine and dried food off her. Worst of all, she forgot how to use the litter box. Instead, she defecated where she slept or walked. We weren't even sure she realized she was defecating. So most of her time was spent in a small contained space. (She didn't notice.) Her nickname became DK - short for Demented Kitty.
The vet told us she'd make slow and steady improvement, but when Christmas came and she still wasn't using the litter box, he told us she probably never would. We resigned ourselves to having a DK for life.
Then one Sunday in January, the strangest thing happened. Our family was busy watching the playoffs when we heard scratching sounds coming from our laundry room. Since the other cat was sleeping nearby, my husband got up to investigate, returning a moment later with a wide eyed expression. "Squeak," he announced, "is using the litter box."
She's been housebroken ever since.
Today, with the exception of a few minor personality quirks, Squeak is a fully functioning normal kitty cat. She's housebroken, social, curious and clean. (She also hates the swimming pool.) If you met her, you'd never know she'd been sick. When I called the feline neurologist (yes, my cat had a neurologist) he remarked her recover was medically significant.
The reason Squeak is sprawled on my sofa today isn't because we're some family of extraordinary pet owners (a family of pet suckers perhaps, but that's another story).
No, Squeak is around simply because she was given the time to reach her benchmarks. The exact same rule applies to your career. Since I began writing, I've seen far too many writers - many of them far more talented than me - fall by the wayside because they quit too soon. They didn't allow themselves time for success. They grew impatient or frustrated and cut their career path short.
Waiting for success is like waiting for Squeak to use the litter. None of us know when success is going to happen. It could be one submission away or ten. Best we can do is muddle through day after day, cleaning up messes and celebrating small victories until that one day when, like Squeak's potty training, success just "happens."
By the way – by helping Miss Mousie, you’ll be helping another special cat. Just like writing, great results are achieved when we dedicate our time and our resources. Here’s hoping that next year we’ll be celebrating Miss Mousie’s anniversary.
PS: The top photo is Squeak last July; the bottom one was taken this morning.