Cat Got Your Tongue?

The World Through My Eyes by Zanastardust, Flickr

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.
– Edgar Allan Poe
Doesn’t that sentence give you goosebumps? Today kicks off the first of my Sunday Inspirations — quotes by writers on the craft of writing — so I dug around the icebox and brought this juicy morsel to the table.
As a youth with a voracious appetite for thrills and chills, my hunger was sated by the alluring works of Poe, probably devouring everything that he’s ever penned. Yes, I have a dark side. This line, surely one of my favorites, feeds me on so many levels, from the pointed to the sublime, the kooky to the creepy. I wish I could write as spectacular as this quote.
So lean back in your comfy cushions or ergonomic chairs and let’s ruminate on these ten words.
To write as mysterious as a cat — that’s relatively straightforward. Aloof. Sinister. Clandestine. Suspicious. You may have guessed from the characteristics that came to my mind that I’m more of a dog person, but regardless of which pet I prefer, those adjectives describe cats perfectly. Of course, there are more flattering facets to the furry little felines, but right now I’m twisting the word ‘mysterious’ around in my brain and contemplating what it means in relation to a cat. It’s all dark and shadowy…deliciously sinful and decadent. Slinky. Skulky. Perfectly Poe.
But Poe didn’t think so. He expressly wished he could write as mysterious.
When I consider Poe, visions of madmen and murderers, razor sharp pendulums, and ghostly women who return from the grave flood my consciousness. His stories and lyric poetry are hauntingly beautiful and tortured, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue secured his spot as the inventor of the modern detective story. Yet, the above quote tells me he wished for something more.
He wished to be better.
The only true comparison that I can make between myself and Poe is in that statement. I also wish to be better. Although we, the lucky recipients of his legacy, realize the extent of his genius, he, the Master of Suspense and Mystery, doubted himself. That doubt sounds familiar, too. Is it our lot as writers to never be satisfied with ourselves and our work — to never feel good enough? No. Our lot as writers is to always strive to be better. To describe the indescribable. To capture the essence of a cat in our words.
Whether he realized it or not, that’s exactly what Poe achieved. He did capture the essence of the creature. He did write as mysterious. Because with his statement, he elevated its behavior to be more enigmatic than his words had ever expressed, describing the animal’s mysteriousness — and in turn, the cryptic nature of his own writings — to a tee. Pretty darn crafty, in my opinion.
Fears, doubts, insecurities — we all have them, even the best of us. They can be crippling if we let them. I’m not going to let them. I’ll face my fears. I’ll overcome my doubts. I’ll put my insecurities on the shelf and I’ll write. I’ll wish to write as mysterious as a cat. And like Poe, maybe I’ll succeed without even knowing it.
It’s something to ponder, when you’re weak and weary.


8 thoughts on “Cat Got Your Tongue?

  1. Great post. Hmm.. wonder how I'd complete that sentence. In fact, what a great challenge that would be: I wish I could write…. Oh, ML you just gave me something to contemplate for the week!

  2. Julie, I played around with that, too. It leads down so many roads. You'll have fun tossing that one back and forth.Ink, It's nice to know that the legends aspired to write better, too. Makes them a little more human and their successes a little more attainable for me. And isn't every week busy, stressful, and nerve racking? It never ends… :o)

  3. We don't think about writers we hold in great esteem, like Poe, being insecure of having self doubts. Yet, those feelings are probably inherent in all great writers because there is that constant desire to be better. Being a better writer is something I hope and work for every day. Your post reminds me that feelings of inadequacy aren't always a failing. Sometimes they're the fuel needed to propel our work to a higher level.

  4. Like Poe, I think we all wish for something more. We wish to be better. To move higher up the mountain. But we spend so much time looking through our critical eye, that we sometimes forget to look through our eye of possibility. A lot of times our most sweetest successes go unnoticed by us until someone else brings it to our attention. And even then we still have a hard time seeing (believing) it.

  5. Roxanne and Demetria…glad to have you in on the discussion! I think we all strive to be better writers each day, learning more, seeing things differently. What I like about this quote is Poe's inability to see that he had already attained that goal and didn't realize it.This gives me hope that even I may be better than I think I am. Demetria…love the eye of possibility. Thanks for coming by you two, and getting all cerebral with me!


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