On Hatching – eggs, ideas and writing

[Today’s guest post is from Susy Flory, a friend who is also an outstanding writer. This short piece has taught me more about what to do with ideas and writing than anything I’ve read in a long time. Please let Susy know if you feel the same by leaving her a comment below.]

***

Once I was asked to pet sit for a friend. She lived on the edge of town and had a small farm full of animals, including a flock of chickens. When I went by to get instructions, she opened up the top of the chicken coop and showed me one of her hens sitting on a clutch of eggs.

“Keep an eye on the hen,” she said. “If she hatches out some baby chicks and leaves the nest, be sure to throw away any leftover eggs. They are probably bad.”

Sure enough, one day I showed up to take care of the animals and the hen had hatched out several chicks. She was out in the yard running around, trailed by a half-dozen little yellow puffballs.

Per my training, I opened up the top of the coop and saw three eggs still in the nest. I picked up the first egg, took a deep breath, and threw it far out into the bushes. I picked up another egg, and did the same.

Then I picked up the last egg, turned it over, and saw a hole. As I stared down at the hole, a tiny beak poked out. I might have screamed a little. Okay, I screamed. And almost dropped it. There was a chick inside!

What on earth should I do? I wanted to keep it warm, so on impulse I stuck it inside my bra. It seemed like the safest place, lying there right over my heart.

I finished my work, moving slowly and carefully.  As I drove home, the egg felt warm and after a while I could hear a very faint peeping. I was delirious with joy and excitement, and kept laughing out loud as I drove.

At home I quickly prepared a box with a soft rag and a heat lamp and nestled the egg inside. A few hours later, a little miracle broke her way out into the world, soft, warm, fuzzy, and peeping. She’d had a close call (what if I hadn’t seen the hole?) but she’d made it through and she was very much alive.

That experience reminds me so much of writers and their ideas. Some writing ideas are incubated and hatch easily, like the chicks running around outside with their mother. They seem to emerge into the world with little effort.

Some ideas are nonstarters, because they just don’t make sense or we can’t figure out what to do with them, or they just come and then fade away.

But some writing projects are like the egg I found—an idea discovered and carried around, close to your heart. It’s alive, you can hear it faintly peeping, and it brings you great joy. But at some point, you have to let it hatch. You can’t keep it in your bra forever.

What would have happened if I had held on to that egg? If I hadn’t released it, let her hatch, dry, fluff out, learn to use her feet, and stand up? What if I had never given her a chance to live out a life in the sunlight and fresh air?

Your writing idea is the same. You can’t carry it around forever. When you hear the peeping, it’s time to take it out and let it begin to break out of its shell. The world needs more beauty and inspiration. Let it hatch.

***

Susy FlorySusy Flory is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of eleven books. She directs the West Coast Christian Writers Conference, and she loves animals. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads, plus catch more of her great writing on her blog Susy Flory – chasing stories that change lives.

***

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19 Responses to On Hatching – eggs, ideas and writing

  1. Love how Tim Fall shares guests spots. Susy this is such a great illustration for holding on to our ideas. Some of mine are blog posts, in draft form and never hatched, and some are raps for my YouTube channel, MC AC The Rap Lady.

    Then on the heels of turning in my dissertation on dementia caregiving, I break both feet and end up in a nursing home with dementia patients. More dissertation ideas!

    I guess I just have to be content and keep scraps of unfinished ideas.

  2. “You can’t keep it in your bra forever.” I’m just waiting for Tim to make a meme about that ..;any time now, Tim … 😉

    Thanks for this story, Susy. It is very touching in itself but also such a good analogy for the writing life. I have stories and ideas like that, that have been in the incubator a loooong time. So often they remain there because of my fear that the reality of what I will put on the page can’t possibly match the idea in my head. And often that’s a pretty well-founded fear! But sometimes the reality of what comes out is actually better: e.g. maybe I thought it was going to be a piece of creative nonfiction but it becomes a poem that I really love. Thanks for the encouragement to let those ideas hatch!

    • Susy Flory says:

      I hesitated to mention the word “bra” on Tim’s blog, but I braved it! I know what you mean about the reality of the work not quite matching up to our brilliant idea. I think it’s something you get used to over time, but you never stop trying to make it great. Ultimately, it’s the reader who matters. And sometimes very imperfect work changes someone’s life.

  3. keriwyattkent says:

    I love this. I’m in the midst of hatching an idea that’s been on the nest incubating for far too long. Thanks for a beautiful picture of the brave, hard, work of writing.

  4. Tim says:

    Susy, when I asked if you would consider a guest post, I knew I’d get something great. I wasn’t wrong. Your insights on ideas and writing are really helpful for me.

  5. Suzie tripp says:

    Love your story, love you my friend!

  6. helen says:

    Perfect timing on reading this! Just in the last few days an idea for a poem project has come to me.

    Love the hatching metaphor and inside your bra brought a chuckle to my lips!

  7. Susy is peeping right. Writing isn’t a profession where you can force anything, even if you wanted to. You learn patience as a writer. Even more, as Susy so eloquently shows, you learn discernment. I have several books that I started on fire with the idea only to find them fizzle out. Never daunted, I put them away to rest until they are ready to emerge in the world, just like that chick. Thank you for reminding me it’s probably time to check on my eggs. Love you, Susy!!!

  8. Oh Susy, this is just precious! Great insights and a chuckle to boot! Thank you 😄

  9. Pingback: How I Got by with a Lot of Help from My Friends | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

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