Interview with a Writer’s Assistant
We recently sat down for a candid interview with Cinnamon, a Tonkinese cat who is the assistant to author Mary Simses.
Why don’t you tell us about your job?
I’m underpaid, unglorified, and underappreciated. What else do you want to know?
You sound a little irritated.
Of course I’m irritated. A simple, Thank you, Cinnamon, I couldn’t have done it without you, in one of her books would be nice. But so far, nothing. And, by the way, I’m working under horrible conditions. Sometimes my food dish is only half full. It’s clear I’m going to starve to death.
You look perfectly healthy to me. But let’s get back to the job. Can you give us some examples of what you do for Mary?
It’s a long list. How much time do you have?
Maybe you could pare it down to the essentials.
Well, the first thing I do is wake her up so she can feed me. And so she can do her work, of course.
Of course. How do you wake her up?
I begin with the usual meows and head nudges, and if that fails I escalate to stronger measures, like lying down across her neck or breathing on her with heavy tuna breath. That usually does it.
I can imagine. What happens after that?
After that I hang out in the kitchen while she has coffee and reads the newspaper. I like to jump on the table and stretch out across the paper, covering as much of it with my body as I can so she can’t read it. This forces her to pet me and give me the attention I deserve. Otherwise I don’t move. After that I might stare out the window or destroy a plant or try to catch an insect. Or groom myself for an hour.
What about the actual writing process? Do you assist Mary with that?
Of course. She likes to sit on a banquette in the bedroom and write at her laptop table. I curl up next to her and I’m ready to offer advice and encouragement at any time.
That sounds like a very important part of your job.
You better believe it. Do you know what a good muse is worth these days? Plenty. And I don’t care if you’re talking cash, Bitcoin, or catnip.
And you always give her advice?
Not always, but I’m available to do it. Seven days a week, all day long.
I know cats do a lot of sleeping. How can you be available all day? Don’t you ever fall asleep when she’s working?
Hmm. Well, I guess I sometimes fall asleep.
All right, I often fall asleep.
Okay, okay. I always fall asleep. Let’s move on.
What other responsibilities do you have as a writer’s assistant?
I guard the laptop when Mary’s not using it.
What does that mean?
It means I lie down on the keyboard so the keys don’t get hurt by things falling on them or spilling on them. Haven’t you ever seen cats lying down on laptop keyboards?
Yes, but I always thought they did that because the keyboards are warm.
Oh, come on. That’s an old urban legend. We’re protecting the keys. A lot of cats do it without even being paid, which I think is wrong of course, but until we unionize ….
I understand. Well, Cinnamon, I appreciate your speaking to us. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes. Could somebody please deal with that stupid squirrel that comes to the window every day and mocks me? I’ve hoarded a big stash of treats and I’m willing to pay whatever it takes.
I’ll see what I can do.