Why does the cat lie like a ten thousand naira grooming job, every hair in place, every rump of toned muscle sleek and clean, ready to leap with grace, and land with greater grace? The secret is the tongue of the cat, don’t you know? How hour after hour it quietly licks its fur into place? It was cat already, before all the cat-licking starts, but no; cats are never cat enough for their obsessive sense of catness, so they work their tongues like lint cleaners, over and over every inch of cat-fur, until at last they achieve that cat heaven where the hundreds of thousands of the hair on their fur lie in perfect congruence, without a mote of discomfiting dust.

A tale is very like a cat, don‘t you know? Every word of it is like hair in fur. It is taken and sleeked into the rubric of the tale. Hour after hour, it is scripted and rescripted, tweaked and retweaked. Impatient industrial presses may hum in the wings, waiting for PDFs and plates to churn out hundreds of thousands of the finished tale, but all that is in the future. For now, the tale is handmade by its dreamer. It is as pampered as the fur of the cat. The writer obsesses over his words, licking them into shape until the tale can leap with grace from the page, supple as a rubber spoke, and land in the mind of the reader with greater grace, without a single discomfiting word.

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