A-Z Writer's Toolbox: Laser Cats

A to Z Disclaimer:

Like all craftspeople, writers need to keep a bag of tricks handy. A set of tools for the job (writing), if you will. Some of these traits or tools are obvious--like the need to have a hide as thick as a brick, for instance. Some are not. This month, I've been challenged to do a post every day of the week (excluding Sunday) that begins with a letter of the alphabet. I'm going to use this challenge to examine some of those necessary writing tools, both conventional and not. Hold on to your #2 pencil, here we go!

NOTE: I've added a page dedicated to my A to Z Writer's Toolbox posts. I figured I'd soon have a bunch of these things and it'll make it easier for you to browse any of the letters you might have missed. You can find a link to the page under the, "MORE STUFF" heading at the top of the right-hand column of this page.

L is for Laser Cats (You should probably watch this to get the post.)

Ever have a BIG idea that fizzled upon execution?  Who am I kidding? You're a writer, of course you have!  :-)  You spend hours working on a story or poem, then you spend more hours tweaking it, and then you give it to someone to read.  You wait, your stomach twitching with excitement, as your reader inspects your child like some kind of evil step-parent.  

"This is it," you think.  This is the one that blows them away!  This is the story that convinces someone other than myself that I'm fit to be called a writer.  The awards will surely roll in and Stephen King will be on my doorstep ready to induct me into The League of Legendary Authors.

Then the reader puts your story down and says something along the lines of, "It was cute."  Or they immediately point out the typo on page 57.  Or they don't even smile when it was supposed to be a comedy.  Or they tell you about how much they love this 'other' story by that 'other' writer.  It happens.  A lot.

I do it on this blog all of the time.  (Today might be just such a day.)  I get this cool concept for a post bouncing around in my mind.  It's a little risky, and people might not get it.  Still, I eventually grab ahold of it and type it up.

I read it back aloud.  Sounds like awesome!
I hit the preview button.  Looks like awesome!  
I hit the publish button and wait for the first 400 comments and InterWeb infamy to pour in.  

Three hours later and I've gotten one comment from a regular, one from a guy wanting to sell me Nike shoes directly from the warehouse--CHEAP!--and I've lost 4 followers.  Like the guys who pitched the "Laser Cats" movie above, the reaction was not the one I was hoping for.

In my mind, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Deflating, maybe, but bad?  Nope.  Here's the thing, unless I explore a few things and take a few risks, I'll never figure out what I'm truly capable of.  Blogging has taught me that it's OK to take a risk.  Sometimes my posts go over like a lead balloon.  Sometimes the ones that I'm sure no one is going to 'get' end up being the most popular.  Plus, with every failed attempt I learn something new about blogging.  Like how it's not always best to sacrifice clarity for sensationalism, or how it's OK to not love everything that every other blogger is doing and occasionally express that.         

My 'serious' writing is the same for me.  It seems like the more chances I take, the more I succeed.  For every 1 "Laser Cats" (see also - really bad idea) I churn out, I produce 2 or 3 really good things.

So I'm starting to think we really need those Laser Cats.  In essence, I suppose that's what drafting is all about.  We flesh things out, make a few mistakes, and then hopefully build it all into something awesome.  Then again, it could just end up being awful, but I think that's OK too.

So what about you?  Do you ever have Laser Cat blog posts or stories?  Have you ever created something that you were sure was going to be great only to have it be misunderstood or not met with the same enthusiasm with which it was created?  Did it help or hurt you?  

I leave you with MORE Laser Cats!  (These are even funnier than the first, BTW.  Did I mention there's a Christopher Walken cameo and a cute puppy?)



  1. Meh, I don't get it.


    I hate it when someone reads something of mine and then gives me the clearing of the throat followed by the stuttering, "Uh, well, it's...interesting."

    Gah! But I agree it is a teaching moment. Figuring out what doesn't work is an important step in the process of getting better.

  2. Is it cowardly of me to only voice the really awesome parts of my current works? I like the 'wow' reaction, but the 'well,um, it kinda sorta doesn't actually make any sense' reaction - not so much love for that! I avoid proof reading when I blog. I let it flow. But that's only because I appear to have become a poet! And on that note, EJ I'm glad you dig my poetry!

    Lady A x

  3. Great idea for a topic for today, the Laser Cats skits are pretty funny. That is a good point about taking risks with writing. My blog has been all over the place with different ideas as has my fiction.

  4. Love this. Funny enough, I tend to get the most traffic on Fridays, when I regularly post pictures of cute kittens. I dunno. A very good lesson here, and one we should keep in mind. Have I taken any risks? Hmm... some food for thought.

  5. I won't take this personally...well maybe I should.
    My recent blog has a lot of "That's cute" and I think one might be from YOU!
    Oh well, dogs rule.

  6. What about a laser cat wearing kitten mittons! That would be a GREAT idea!

  7. I had to yell at my husband because all he ever gave me was "it's good" before launching into all my grammatical mistakes. He's much better now.

  8. @ LG: Good thing you clarified that you got it, 'cause I was about to boot you. lol

    @ Kat: Those kitten pictures you post are adorable and deserve the blog traffic they get! :-)

    @ TDR: No fair! Your story was literally a picture book, I thought 'cute' was an entirely appropriate response! ;-)

  9. That's cute! LOL!

    Seriously though, I especially hate when a reader hates a line I thought was brilliant! Losing that line or rewriting it makes my pen hover.

  10. Oh, man, no wonder people have been laughing at me when I tell them how cool Laser Cats is! Seriously, though, I never know when I'm being creative or when I'm just being weird on my blog.

  11. @ Lisa: I'm right there with you.

  12. I got short-changed. I am unable to view the videos because I am outside the U.S. It happens a lot and I always wonder what I am missing out on. Bummer!

    But on a good note, I totally get what you are saying. From time to time instead of just sharing with my writer's group I go ahead and show it to my husband first. With stories, I must admit he is very good at offering advice and sometimes he even says it's good just as it is. But he has no clue about poetry and doesn't get anything I write. So I just don't show him that work anymore. But there have been times where I put my heart into something and it was a flop with my group. SO it goes. I am just glad they give me their honest opinion and I can go from there. But, yeah. It hurts at first.


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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