Several years ago at a summer writer’s retreat in the hills of Idaho, a couple of us arrived early, eager for the weekend to start. As we sat on the deck waiting for the person with the key to get there, a kitten appeared. Being animal lovers, we fed him some turkey earmarked for lunch. It wasn’t long before another kitten showed up. By evening, there were four siblings. Two were so timid they ran at the slightest movement. The most gregarious was the first kitten, a skinny gray boy with a half white nose.
It wasn’t long before we realized this little guy had a goal—he wanted a home. In his little cat brain, he figured these turkey-wielding city women were his best option and he set out to win his prize. He charmed, he cajoled, and he wangled his way into our hearts. He reluctantly let me hold him, but fear took over and I ended up punctured. Clearly frightened, he screwed up his courage and within twenty-four hours those who held him were left puncture free.
As the weekend progressed, we all fell in love with the little troupe of characters, especially Gray. At their tender age (8 or 10 weeks), we knew they’d never survive the bone-numbing mountain winter. But what to do?
A couple of us went back to town for cat food. We were going to feed them for the weekend and leave the rest in a large pile. It would hold them until we were able to tell the cabin owners about their non-paying guests. Decision made, problem solved.
Yeah, right. As if he sensed the plan, Gray turned up the charm. He tried to sneak in every time the door opened. He batted at people as they passed on the other side of the window and finally, he began rubbing up against legs as people sat outside. He was going home with someone. It was just a matter of who would be the lucky one. I wouldn’t dare introduce one more animal into my nicely balanced three-ring circus.
A blonde math teacher fell for Gray’s antics. You could see it in her eyes, but her husband had allergies and her three little boys were small. Prospects weren’t good.
We pooled our brain cells and came up with a new plan. We’d catch the little guy and send him home with a woman who would turn him over to her father-in-law with animal rescue. Decision made, problem solved…again.
What did I learn from this little cat? If you want it bad enough, and you stay with it long enough, you’ll achieve your goal. You may have to change your plan along the way and turn up the intensity, but you’ll get there.
A published author told us a similar story. A hundred people signed up for a workshop she gave at her writers group. Before the day of the workshop, three had dropped out (They were all members of her writer’s chapter so she was able to keep track of the participants.). By the end of one year, more than half the people had left the group. At the end of the second year, only ten remained. Finally, there was only one. It took several years, but the one kept plugging away, and in the end announced her first book sale.
So, keep going. Do what it takes to get to your goal. And the next time you contemplate giving up, remember Gray and his focus.
What finally happened to little Gray? He ended up with the blonde math teacher, of course. The kids changed his name to Igor. As he settled in, he got friendlier by the day and turned out to be more dog-like in his desire for company. He yipped at them when they got home from school, excited to see them. He slept with the boys and generally claimed his place in the family. They were very glad, and Igor was very glad all through his full and happy life.