It’s humbling. I have to admit it. That I allowed myself to put a hen’s natural determination to be a mother over my own ethical concerns and moral waffling. Of course, I made feeble attempts to break her. I took away the eggs on which she sat. I opened the door so that the breeze might cool her ardor. But I didn’t have it in me to put her in a cage in the car and drive about on bumpy roads, nor to balance said cage on sawhorses so she would have nowhere to rest comfortably. Nor to stick her into a bucket of cold water. All those means to an end seemed brutish and traumatizing . . . to me if not the hen. Instead, I ordered four auto-sexed chicks and shoved a few wooden eggs under her, who looked startled, then nestled down more fulsomely to her duties. And I? I went to New York City to attend the IPPY Awards Ceremony.
While in the Big City, I also attended BEA (Book Expo America). There I continued my education on publishing today. It gave me a deeper perspective, if not a happy one, of what’s in store for me when I finish my next book. In too brief because the day is ticking by and I have chicks to prepare for: Traditional publishing isn’t the experience it used to be. Money, money, money. There’s less of it to go around. Thus authors taken on by the big publishing houses have fewer perks, if any. Advances are small. Expectations high. Not just the authors’ expectations but the publishers’. It’s now expected that the authors do much of their own publicity and advertising so that when the book comes out, there’s more than a ripple in the sea of books. Thus, more and more traditionally published authors are opting to self-publish. If one must do the business of writing, why not make the profit, too? It’s a changed world and the publishing world of yore doesn’t like change. But here it is. Change. And the publishing industry and the concomitant attitudes must adapt.
But that is for the future and more experience. I have to write the book before I start worrying about how to publish it.
I’ve done a lot of debating and dithering in the past three months. Would I write the nonfiction book I’ve been talking (too much) about for two years? How differentiate the writing of it, and that of writing posts for this blog? Will I toss away all I’ve done on that book and move my focus to my next novel, which is all outlined and ready to go?
Believe me: it is far easier to focus on a hen. Twenty-one days and here we are, Panda and I, awaiting delivery.
Surprise! the wind blows here at Darwin’s View. Turkey Vultures, hawks and crows follow its drafts closer to the house than they have ever flown. And my shoulders and neck muscles ache with the tension of bracing for the next blast . . . and anticipation. I try to be excited about the chicks but the tables have shifted. That little hen, Panda, who was so insistent went AWOL. With only four days before her chicks arrived post-haste after hatching, she decided it was time to stretch her legs. Was she no longer interested in further explorations into mother hen-hood? I can’t blame her. But her timing lacked something and now? In 24 hours, we’ll be getting a call from the post office and I’ll pick up the new cheeps and if Panda decides not to be on the meet and greet committee, it will be me who takes over the hen duties.
Was I presumptuous in my assumption that Panda would do the care-taking of these chicks, teaching them everything there is to teach a chick? I am unprepared to do the job. I have no mother hen qualities. Hovering. Squawking. Pecking. Heart tremors at the sound of cheep, cheep, cheep? I have only a heat lamp to warm them, and the box of chicks heads our way as inevitably as a train barreling to its final station stop.
Sometimes it is easier to focus on writing.
I am plunging into Darwin’s View One Breath After Midnight again. It’ll be peck work. Squawking as ideas come and go and sometimes they aren’t as pretty when written down on paper. I sit at my desk, hovering in hopes that the muses will descend upon me and I’ll write. A heart tremor at the idea of a finished product.
Thus, proof: I do have the traits of a mother hen, minus the feathers and patience. Hover, squawk, peck. But whereas chicks represent spring, hope—all those destroyed male chicks notwithstanding–my book . . . but I’m not discussing my book anymore. I have to write it and the echo in my mind is this: no surprise for the writer means no surprise for the reader. Thus, I still work on the story arc. And gallivant off to pick up the chicks.