Saturday, August 15, 2009

towards an exegesis of catwaxing...

First off, I think we need to define our terms. There are two commonly used phrases to indicate unproductive work around writing: "catwaxing" (or "cat waxing") and "cat-vacuuming."

While both of these terms are etymologically similar ("I can't write right now: I have to vacuum my cat") and both indicate displacement activity ("any work but the work we should be doing" [Monette, 2005]), there are some differences in how each is used. Generally, in this author's experience, cat-vacuuming is the work one feels one must do in order to get ready to write--the washing of dishes, walking of dogs, sorting of pencils, scrubbing of the bathroom grout--whereas catwaxing is more properly reserved for the work one does in place of writing, which one can somehow justify as writing-related.

In exemplia, catwaxing behaviors may include blogging, drawing maps, rearranging post-it notes stuck to the wall of the den in a more pleasing pattern while claiming to be "working on one's outline," and so forth. With the advent of Twitter and the #wip hashtag [Lake, 2009] the actual act of working on one's novel can be subsumed into catwaxing activity.

The worm Ourbourous has turned full circle. The cat waxes itself.


  1. The Cat Waxes and Wanes - as in yoga, happy cat & angry cat, but more so.

  2. I was always under the impression that cat waxing was what one did when one had spent SO MUCH time vacuuming the cat that all the cat's hair had been sucked into the vacuum, and all that was left to do was to wax the poor, bald creature.

  3. Oh good - us amateurs can take catwaxing lessons from the pros!

    I love the internet!

  4. I was already laughing at this post, and then you put in a -citation-! How perfect.

  5. Interesting and important concept. Wierd choice of a name for it.
    So, is reading this blog "catwaxing"? Just askin'!