Group member Beverly, a colleague of mine in MCC’s Biology Department, has written her first book — an epistolary memoir called Seven Bridges to Mandan — and is in the process of looking for an agent.
In her time “off” from teaching, fine tuning her manuscript, and writing her blog, Fiacre’s Spade, Bev farms her land and raises chickens. It’s an interesting life — and one that produces farm-fresh eggs that she generously gives to her friends (thanks for the delicious eggs, Bev!). It’s also a life that can be mined for lessons. Here are some of the things Bev has learned, about writing and about life, from her feathered farm friends.
This is a guest post from Beverly Dow, a member of this summer’s Online Writing Group:
In the three years that we have had chickens, I have discovered that they are wonderful, Zen-like creatures that have a lot to teach us about writing and living. Here are four points of chicken advice.
1. Be present in the moment. A chicken pomodoro is two minutes, tops. But in their brief attention span, they are totally focused. There is no past and no future. There is only now. When writing, set aside a short time, and don’t let anything distract you.
2. Regard every good thing as the best thing that has ever happened. Scratch grains, carrot peels, worms on a rainy morning—best thing ever! I have a “chicken moment” with chocolate every day after lunch. Presumably we are all in this group because we love writing. Make your writing time the best thing ever.
3. Deal with aggravations directly and get over it. Chickens really do have chicken fights. Two face off, run straight at each other, and collide. It’s hilarious! I have no idea how they decide who wins, but it is all over in seconds. You can’t write if your mind is on the last quibble you had with your spouse. Move on. (Note: I am terrible at this one.)
4. If you get broody, chill.
The primordial chicken had to incubate (brood) eggs. Her belly gets warmer, and her brain tells her to sit in the nest and get all pissy if disturbed. Broodiness has not been completely bred out of modern hens. We cure a broody hen by putting her in an elevated cage to cool her belly and disrupt the broody hormone cycle. So take a time out and stop obsessing. Have some chocolate. Get back to writing. It’s the best thing ever!
These are some really wise chickens! Or, at least their farmer is a wise woman who is a fan of writing and chocolate. Either way, take the chicken’s advice and get to work, writers!
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