by Mandy Broughton
Two months ago I bought some backyard chickens.
Bear with me, I’ll get to the writing part.
I’m a city girl and I know nothing about chickens. So I did my research. I watched on YouTube, read in dozens of books, and listened to my Dad (“they poop a lot, you don’t want chickens”). But dreams of fresh eggs called my name, so I purchased two, four-month-old production reds.
And then one got sick. So off to do more research. And phone calls. And more YouTube videos. Amazingly enough, everyone is an expert on chicken care on the internet.
Kind of like writing–how many expert blogs are there on the writing craft? Publication? Marketing? Do you see where I’m leading?
They got over whatever it was that they had, and start to eat. A lot. And Dad was right, they poop. A lot. Every morning I anxiously await my fresh eggs. I search the wooded area they like to hang out in during the day. Nothing. But I keep feeding them. More and more chicken feed. And my compost bin is bursting full. But still no eggs.
Kind of like writing–you write and write and write and never seem to see any results from all the effort. But you keep on writing. Maybe one day!
And then one day, I see it. It must be an egg!
My novel is almost done. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m on word 59,998 of a 60,000 word novel.
Uhm, no. This is not the egg I was looking for.
What have I written? Did I even use a plot? Do I have any idea what my main character is doing? Obviously, not.
Alas, it was a plastic Easter egg leftover from a hunt. Imagine my disappointment! Fresh egg? No, empty shell.
Kind of like writing–I have one 60,000 word novel that will never see the light of day. No two words are even remotely in the right place. No amount of editing will ever fix this manuscript.
And then another month goes by. I’m faithfully feeding the
piggies chickies. One day turns into another. My kids keep asking, “what if they never lay eggs?” My husband starts muttering things like, “drumsticks, gravy, mashed potatoes.”
Has your family and friends abandoned you on your writing quest? Are you all alone in this endeavor? Maybe, but you keep plugging away. There is a story wanting to be told. Maybe today will be the day, it is told.
And yesterday morning, one hen was really loud. She was yakking up a storm. I followed her.
I made a note of where she was. I left her alone and waited patiently. I tried to contain my excitement.
Kind of like writing–I finished writing my first novel. The editing went well. The editor helped me with major rework but it looked like a real book. It read like a real book. Patience. I can’t rush the process. No shortcuts. No cutting corners. Patience.
Yes, those are two real live chicken eggs. They were smaller than I expected. But, as my daughter reminded me, the first eggs are usually the smallest. One scrambled for the kids. One over-easy for me. YUM! Finally, eggs! I had visions of two eggs a day for the next year. For the next three years. Mounds and mounds of fresh eggs.
My novel is done. It’s for sale. It’s smaller than I expected but it’s doing well. I’m selling books! I’m an author. I have visions of high ranks, big bank deposits, and a dozen more books doing just as well.
I go out this morning to check for eggs. Nothing. I go out again. Nothing. I go out again. One egg. What happened to my two eggs a day? One egg? Really?
Kind of like writing–I finally finish book two in the series and it does not do as well as book one. Why is that? I think it’s a better story. I’ve worked harder on it. I think I wrote it when I was a better writer. But, no, it doesn’t do as well. It just lays there selling precious few.
In the end, how is writing a novel like laying an egg? Well, maybe if you add all the right ingredients; hard work, good plot, exciting characters, phenomenal editing, you might end up with something that sells. Or not. You can’t force it. You can only provide the right conditions. Just like those hens of mine. I feed them. Give them water. Provide them with a safe environment. Give them treats (boy, that feed store clerk saw me coming, “mealworms are a great treat”). One laid an egg two days in a row. One didn’t. I can lament over the fact I only got one egg instead of two. Or I can get to work on the next day. Good feed. Plenty of water. Safe environment. Another mealworm or two. Maybe tomorrow will be two eggs.
My third book (The Cat’s Last Meow) is my best seller. Followed by my first book (Cream Cape and the Case of the Missing Hamster). Still. Imagine that. Think on that while I eat some scrambled eggs for supper.