On our anniversary, hubby and I went out to eat dinner. He didn’t shut the chickens in and lock the coop because he thought we’d be back before dark. Well, we got back after dark and found a trail of feathers leading from the chicken coop across the yard. There were only ten chickens in the coop, all huddled together on the top roost. The gray hen and one white one were gone. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.
Talk about egg on the face, big disgrace. . . We haven’t had a brown egg since. That’s how we found out for sure that the gray chicken laid brown eggs. The next day, I heard a shot and didn’t think much of it. Later on, hubby found out the neighbor had shot the fox that probably raided our hen-house. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, but I think you get the idea. I don’t think I would have wanted to see that anyway.
Believe me, now we’re very careful to make sure the chickens are inside on time. But we’re not ever going to get as many eggs as we did before the fox stole two of our chickens unless we replace them. Is it worth it? It might be if we build a more secure coop. Hubby has the materials ready. He’s also fencing in the orchard we’re planting, so the chickens can wander and scratch and peck to their hearts’ content during the day without messing up the yard.
Wait. Four paragraphs and I haven’t mentioned writing. Or books. So what does this story have to do with either? I could relate chickens and foxes to characters. Of course there have to be heroes and villains. And characters (like hubby and I) who make mistakes and hinder the hero’s quest. Those are good mistakes for a book, the kind that make people turn pages. Then there the kind of mistakes that make readers throw a book down–too many typos, spelling and grammar errors, etc. Those kill a book as surely as that fox killed our chickens. Mistakes are why I started editing–to prevent BTS (book throwing syndrome).
How else does my chicken story relate to books? How about comparing the chickens to book content and the coop to packaging, especially the book cover. Doesn’t it take both good chickens and a good coop to make good sales? i.e. more eggs/dollars? Not necessarily for an exceptional marketer or adult content, but usually, yes. I might buy a book because of its cover, but that doesn’t mean I’ll read it all if it’s got a lousy plot and/or boring characters. That’s another reason I became an editor: to feed those chicken characters until they “bug-gawk”–that’s what our chickens say–right off the page.
Raising chickens takes some learning, as does writing. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes–including how to protect my property and increase production, also important concerns for writers. To protect my intellectual property, I have to be careful what I post here because Blogger can do what it wants with my content. I might own it, but they get to reproduce it whenever and wherever they please. As for production, I plan to toot my own horn to increase sales. Not even trade publishers promote every author’s book anymore. I just went to a seminar where I learned the big publishers might pick two authors a year to advertise. Everyone else has to do their own marketing.
More likely you’ll be like Chicken Little–“The sky is falling!”–if you try it on your own. You need a good critique group followed by a good editor, a knockout book cover, and plenty of publicity in the form of blog tours and great reviews, not the kind that call you a cluck or say you laid an egg–unless it’s golden.
Are those all the ways my fox in the hen-house experience can relate to writing? I doubt it, so if you can think of more, please do tell. I really wanted to tell the story about our chickens, and I hope I did it in a way that helps at least one struggling writer think out of the coop and break out of the flock–without getting eaten by wolves. Or foxes.
As a final note, this is as close as I’ve gotten to telling a story in months. Moving is hard. It takes time, energy, and leaves little left for other pursuits. Avoid it if you can. If you can’t, well, store up all that trouble in your mind so you can dump it on your characters later.