Answers to questions on life and writing
Dear Gentle Reader,
Ms. Merriwether (c’est Moi) is opening an advice column for all your questions about life and writing, or the writing life. I will select several questions from the comments section and make them the basis for my next column.
Experiments like these may succeed or fail or do both or neither.
What qualifications do I have to be an advice columnist, you may ask?
Well, I am a mother, so I give unsolicited advice freely. I have lived and I have written. You may create fodder for the mill by offering different advice or asking questions for me.
Question: Dear Ms. Merriwether, What kind of dog should I get for my writerly life? I know writers traditionally have cats, but I am allergic to cats.
Answer: Gentle Reader, this question wants to ask you many questions in return about your living situation, reasons for wanting a dog, and what ego needs of yours the dog must meet. I would advise against any small, white fluffy dog, who wants to lie on your keyboard while you are writing and yap annoyingly.
Short people seem particularly fond of Corgis. I suppose if you are short, a Great Dane is out of the question, but a natural affinity appears to occur when the little legs of a dog keep stride with the little legs of their human.
Labradors are great, outgoing dogs, but generally require play and friendship, and interaction. Labradors would be suitable dogs if you want routine breaks from the focus of writing, you love endless games of fetch with a soggy tennis ball, and are a misplaced extrovert.
On the other hand, if you are a lazy person and don’t want to admit that the recliner has indented to your body shape with the footrest up while typing away on your laptop, you may opt for a basset hound or other dog that lies about, too. (Did you notice the double entendre?)
Question: Dear Ms. Merriwether, I have a terrible head cold and I don’t feel like doing anything but watching Seinfeld reruns on Netflix. I am also committed to daily writing. How do I manage my illness and my discipline?
Answer: Gentle Reader, We have so much focus on productivity. Sigh. But I would look back to the great works of literature. Moliere wrote The Imaginary Invalid in the 1600s and that play is still performed today. Tie a dishtowel around your neck so that if your nose is flowing like a firehose you can sop up the mess occasionally and have a bib that prevents spillage on your keyboard.
A nice cup of tea on your side table is always a good companion, and you can rotate with broth or brandy, depending on your druthers.
Write about your illness. Go full bore into how miserable it is to feel the fluid rattling in your bronchial tubes, the hacking up of unspeakable substances, how differently you may treat spitting depending on your gender, the racking miseries and delights of chills and fever. Describing detailed experiences within your own body is a place to start.
If you have someone to attend to you in your illness, thank them with baleful expressions and loud sighs. Otherwise, just buck up.
Signed, Ms. Merriwether
Oh! I love these 😊