S R Silcox - Author

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How catching a mouse taught me a lesson about writing

My wife yelled out “Got’im!” in the middle of the night a few days ago. No, she wasn’t dreaming. I was though, until that moment.

She’d been listening to a mouse run around our bedroom until finally, it found the food we’d left for it in the trap she’d set. She’d heard it go off while I was apparently blissfully unaware until her shouting in her moment of triumph woke me up.

Before I go any further, I should explain we purchased a trap that wouldn’t harm the mouse, so we could release it later, which we did, and that trap forms part of the story below. I just wanted you to know my wife and I are “catch and release” type people as much as we can be. Even with spiders, which I am absolutely afraid of but if we have to have them, I would rather have them outside than in.

Oh, except for flies. We both hate flies.

So how did catching a mouse teach me a lesson about writing?

If you’re part of my Reader Group email list, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with my writing for the last four months. This isn’t unusual for creative people – we can periodically get caught up in depression and depressive episodes, questioning what we’re doing and why, and whether what we do even matters.

Writing is hard when you remind yourself that you’re effectively putting a piece of your heart and soul into each new project and setting if off into the world for people to judge.

It’s easy to lose your self-belief and get stuck in the mire of thinking that what you do doesn’t matter.

Which is part of what I’m going through right now. Among other things, but it’s my mental state that needs some loving right now so that’s what I’m talking about today.

So back to the mouse story.

We’ve known we’ve had a mouse running around our place for at least a few months, but it would disappear for a few days and we’d think it was gone for good, only for it to wake us in the middle of the night rustling through the paperwork in our bedside drawers.

Finally, a few weeks ago, my wife came home from work and informed me she would make a trap to catch the mouse. She’d just need an empty softdrink bottle, some wire, a piece of wood, some books and some food to tempt it with. I wish I’d taken a photo of it, because it was the most un-mousetrappy thing I’ve seen. It would never work.

And then it actually did. The first night we set it, we caught the little sucker.

And then watched as the mouse squeezed through the smallest of gaps to escape.

It then proceeded to spend the night going back and forth, nibbling on the food and then doing whatever the heck it was doing before we provided it with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Then it vanished again.

(That’s not exactly true – I found a dead mouse drowned in the dogs’ water bowl and assumed it was our mouse – so sad, which is why I didn’t want to add it to the story. Ahem).

Then it turned up again. (A different one, I guess). In the middle of the night, it woke us with its shenanigans, going through our bedside tables, and I finally put my foot down. “We’re buying a mouse trap tomorrow,” I said.

So we did.

I do have a picture of this one:

And this one worked too, hence the start of my story above.

My wife duly released the mouse on her way to work. Apparently after it had gorged itself on the food we’d left in the trap. Which I guess you can’t argue about really.

If you’ve read this far, you’re now wondering how on earth this story relates in any way to writing.

One of the things we did with that mouse was reassessing the tools we had at our disposal. We used what we had ourselves first, to see if that would work. We were almost there with that, but we decided we needed the proper tool for the job to get the best result.

We also didn’t give up and let that mouse run around our house like it owned the place. If we did that, who knew how many extra house guests we’d end up having once the word got out we were apparently happy to have them.

And that’s effectively what I’ve been doing with my writing these last few weeks.

I’ve questioned whether it’s what I want to do, and reminded myself that I actually love it when it’s working.

I then questioned why it’s not working right now and came to the conclusion I’ve not been working on myself or my craft as much as I should have been.

So I upgraded my tools.

I’ve been reading and rereading craft books, fiction books for fun, and motivational books to get me back on track mentally. I’ll share those books and my thoughts on them in future posts for anyone interested.

I have a tonne of story ideas I want to get out of my head and into the world so not writing was never going to be an option anyway.

I’ve also reframed my thinking around my writing and story in general, which I’ll write about in another post.

But for now, I’m going to head off and do some free writing to get back into the habit and then finish reading some books that have been on my TBR pile for far too long.

And hoping that another mouse doesn’t decide to move into our place…

 

1 Comment

  1. Mouse story was a great read with great writing can’t wait to see more of this style from you.

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