I’m reading one of my books out loud. If you’re a writer, it’s a vital step because often we hear with our ears what we gloss with our brains. Rhythm becomes more obvious when spoken aloud; rhyming words stand out so you can change them (or at least rearrange them so your novel doesn’t sound as if it was co-written by Dr. Seuss); repeated words become apparent.
A friend of mine told me she had all her novels on tape (for you young’uns, this was back in the dark ages, when we used cassette recorders) because she liked to listen to them while she did housework. She’d sit with her recorder and read the whole thing, and she added, “With a cat on my lap. She knows it’s prime petting-time.”
This week, Kiddo4 started preschool, and because I’m alone in the house for two hours, I get my coffee and sit somewhere unusual and read aloud. I’m not recording myself because I’m editing while reading. I don’t need to re-hear myself saying, “Oh! Stupid, stupid, stupid…” and the momentary silence while I alter the text and then re-read the sentence.
Plus, I know from CricketB that I normally read about three times too fast, and I’m doing this even faster.
The first time I started reading aloud, I did it in one of the Kiddos’ bedrooms because the light was best there, and it wasn’t my desk (so I’d stay focused longer) and within minutes, the cat joined me. She didn’t get on my lap, since the computer was there, but she stayed near the whole time.
During my second read-aloud session, I had seized the Comfy Chair I normally can’t get to because the Kiddos want it, and five minutes later, the cat had come downstairs and taken a position on the arm of the sofa, about six feet from me. She never sits there. It’s just not someplace she hangs out.
Last night was my third read-aloud session. The cat joined me up on the bed.
So now I’m wondering: my friend said the cat wanted to be petted, but my cat isn’t getting any petting. She’s coming in response to my voice (normally she doesn’t come when I’m on the computer) and I wonder if cats aren’t just attracted to our story-telling voice, the rising and falling, the changes in pitch which maybe we don’t use on a regular basis.
A study a few years ago proved that cats can modulate their purr to imitate a baby’s sounds. I wonder if they’re not keyed into the emotions we’re expressing when we tell stories.
Anyone out there want to try? If you own a cat and you have half an hour alone, would you mind reading from a book (it doesn’t have to be your own) in an otherwise-still house? It’s for the benefit of science. Really.