A werid thought occured to me this morning as I watched my husband playing with the cat. OK, weird thoughts occur to me all the time, but the gist of this one was:
Some readers are dogs, and others are cats.
Dog readers, when they open a book, want all that high action immediately. They don’t want you to stroke them gently on the head – they want vigorous rib-thumping pats and scratches and rubs with both hands which will, if all goes well, morph quickly into a wrestling match. They want full body contact, and lots of it – they want you to really throw that ball just as far and high as you can! They don’t want you to build up to it or demonstrate how, if you hold the ball at a certain angle, the logo glitters in the light. They just want to chase the ball or, even better, flop down on the ground with you and wrestle the ball. If you try to take a breather they will run circles around you barking and jumping, and if you don’t throw the ball again pretty quick, they will give you that big, sad, betrayed look.
I am what Jackson Galaxy calls “bi-petular.” I usually have both cats and dogs in my household but, I have to admit, even the dogs who have loved me best have been a bit disappointed with me because I, myself, prefer to play like a cat. I mean, sure, I can throw the ball pretty high, and even throw it repeatedly, but I just don’t dig wrestling.
Cat readers, when they open a book, want to see the feather lying on the ground, fluttering tantalizingly in the gentlest breeze. They want you to tug it just out of reach. They want your foot under the quilt to wiggle and a little bit to the left, and then to the right or, even better, unexpectedly to the left again. They are not interested in the ball until they see how the logo glitters in the light. They will pounce on the ball if you roll it gently toward where it might escape under the couch, but if you pick it up and throw it, they will simply leave the room. They like it when you carefully seek out and gently scratch that spot under their chin, just behind the ears, that makes them flop over onto their side and purr, but if you try to rub and thump them the way you would a dog, you are almost certainly going to lose some fingers.
Of course there are exceptions in both cases, and gray areas, and pets as well as readers who are – and like – a blend of both.
I tend to be more of a cat-type reader. I guess this goes for movies and television entertainment, too. When my husband wants to watch an action movie, that’s a good time for me to go into a different room and get some writing done.
As a result, I guess I tend to write more for cat readers. I imagine dog readers might never get to the part of the book where I throw the ball really high. Now, this is always the part where I’m afraid cat-type readers are going to give me the stink-eye and stalk away to go and sleep on top of the laundry basket, but somehow they never do. Maybe by then I have twiddled the feather-teaser to the point that they will do anything, even chase the ball across the meadow, to see where it goes.
Yes, yes, I really will throw the ball! Who’s a good boy? WHO’s a good boy? You are! Yes! You are! Meow!
Afterthought: On proofreading this, I noticed that in writing about dogs, I used a lot of verbs and gerunds, but while writing about cats, I tended to use fewer verbs and more adjectives. Hmm…