I’ve become somewhat of a rat chauffer. Not by choice. But it seems that desert packrats enjoy taking rides in my car, up the quarter-mile driveway to the locked gate. On two occasions now, Fievel has accompanied me (okay – maybe Fievel was a mouse – and a cartoon character at that – but these rats aren’t the ugly, pointy-nosed Norwegian kind. They are pretty damn cute).
I digress… Twice now, I have encountered large rats hopping from beneath my car after I’ve driven a good distance – most recently one that nearly skittered over my flip-flopped toes once I had gotten out to unlock the gate.
I was so startled by him, I did one of those monotone, drawn out “aaaaaaahhhhh’s” (not to be confused with high-pitched woman-like screams of terror). Well, apparently Fievel No. 2 was just as gob smacked, because he did a 180 and flew back under the car. When I pulled away, I saw him exit again, his chunky rump high-tailing it into the wash.
The first time: same thing, only Fievel No. 1 was already on the other side of the gate (closer to the road) and was especially happy to nose-dive into the protection of desert brush.
While my rat tales seem rather humorous, these critters are a real nuisance. In fact, they are downright destructive. Lest you think we live in a desert dump, I assure you: rats are just part and parcel of rural Arizona desert living.
And they find cars to be very attractive housing and snack options. They have chewed my turn signal wires; they build nests on top of the engines of all our vehicles (prickly cholla cactus burrs, twigs, seeds); they poop all over everything, and, well – they’re just not fun to have around. Nonetheless, they did provide some fodder for my writing muse
For Writers & Readers: You KNEW I’d go here, didn’t you ? You know, the whole writers-as-rats thing (well, packrats). Do you think writers have the propensity to be packrats?
In a conversation with author Ilie Ruby on Twitter, she told me, “My husband just made me throw away the last of my #roughdrafts. It was a painful parting. ” [And by rough drafts, she is referring to printed draft versions. “I keep every shred of e-files,” she says). And author Jennifer Lyn King chimed in saying, “Sometimes the discarded rough drafts serve us well in another ms later (at least for me…)”
What do you think? Are you a keeper or a discarder? Are writers more prone to pack-rat-ed-ness, or is it a danger for everyone – writer, mother, reader, brother, accountant, doctor, astronaut?
A side note: Many of you know that a group of writer friends and I have started a book club blog and website called Great New Books and we have two very special things going on this week:
- A giveaway for our September book pick, Erika Robuck’s Hemingway’s Girl (beginning Wed., Sept. 5, 8 EST and until Sept. 7 at midnight); and
- A vote for our next three months of book picks at our Voting Page (We’re asking for input as we make our list of upcoming reads for the next five months). We have a Facebook page, too. Please join us in discussing Great New Books!