About a month ago I wrote a scene in the novel I’m currently pecking away at. As I formed the words I realized that I didn’t really know what I was talking about.
What was I writing? A girl in a chicken coop collecting eggs.
I grew up in the city. Seeing a squirrel jolting up a tree was about the closest I got to wildlife encounters. The idea of touching a fresh from the … ahem … oven gives me a bit of the heebie-jeebies.
But my character isn’t the kind to be skittish about anything, let alone touching the underside of a chicken.
“I’ve gotta touch a chicken,” I thought to myself.
After hearing about my need to touch a chicken, I had several offers from my chicken owning friends (sososososo many chicken owning friends).
“Oh, thank you,” I’d say, sorry I made it known that I needed to touch a chicken.
I’m going to be honest with you, my friends: I am afraid of chickens. They have razor sharp beaks, right? With long, gnarly talons. And they peck at people. And…and…I eat them. They might be able to sense how delicious I think they are. Then there’s the chance that a chicken might POOP ON ME!
“I can fake it,” I thought. “Nobody will know if I just write the scene without having so much as touched a chicken.”
That was before I went to my friend’s house on Sunday.
Anne Ferris is the owner of three diva chickens. Aretha, Allison, and Adele (like, after the singers). I’ve known Anne for about 5 years and still haven’t figured out one thing that she’s afraid of. Not joking.
When I stepped into her backyard I thought, “By the end of the evening I am going to hold a chicken. I am. No chickening out…um…”
So, I did.
Adele is a redheaded sweetie. She didn’t mind me holding her one bit. She crooned at me as I held her (she doesn’t have quite the lovely pitch as her namesake, but that’s okay).
Holding her was different than what I’d expected. Her feathers had a different texture than I’d anticipated. Her body was firm (I’ve got to find out what her workout regime is).
I realized how I could write the scene in my book so that the reader would feel more inside the story.
I’m so glad I held Adele.
Next up? Snuggling a calf***.
Oh mercy, this novel is going to stretch me…
(***By the way, I do have a friend willing to let me snuggle a calf. Man alive I’ve got a lot of farmer girl friends)