Snatching Ideas from Nature

You are going to hear a lot in the next few posts about my recent stay at Shangri Lar with my darling friend, Mary Nethery. I forgot my camera and, as soon as Mary completes her 39,000 hour flight home from here, she will send photos. Until then, I will do my best to paint a word picture of this particular event.

I’m kind of a sucker for eagles. (well, any bird but stay with me). And 5 of them have blessed our bay house with their presences. Mary and I — focused as we were on our writing — couldn’t help being distracted by the two adults, bad and bald (from the Old English, “balde” for white-haired, not hairless) and three teens, all mottled and unkempt and probably pimply but that was hard to verify from our vantage point.

At any rate, Mary and I were in the living room, intently critiquing my WIP when she suddenly leaped up and ran to the window. A flock of starlings covered the front lawn like a quilt on steroids.

One of the teen eagles perched in the maple tree nearby, seemingly oblivious to the smaller birds in constant motion. We watched for a long time, perhaps half an hour, fearful of his next move and yet it didn’t come. However, as anyone who has watched Planet Earth might have guessed, said teen eagle suddenly took flight and within seconds had a hapless starling in its talons.

Barely breathing, Mary and I could not take our eyes off the scene. Mercifully, the eagle eventually flew off with its prize so we didn’t have to observe the consumption of starling tartare.

It was a Jacques Cousteau kind of moment, without the water. And, of course, I was struck by something beside the matter-of-fact attitude of Mother Nature.

After working like maniacs for several days, Mary and I had each had our eagle moments. She will have to share her own (hopefully, I have successfully badgered her into launching her own blog), but mine was this: I have struggled with this novel for months and months and months, basically spinning my wheels. Then I spent several days at Shangri Lar staring at a very long and very blank roll of paper, taped to the wall of my office, on which Mary had commanded that I rough out the WIP’s plot/storyline. Finally, something Mary said helped me swoop in and snatch up the key point of this darned story I’ve been wrestling with for far too long and that long roll of paper was soon filled with words.

Now, after weeks of just gutting it out, pounding on the keyboard, building up word count, I cannot wait to tell this story! I’ve finally snagged the prize with my talons and am sitting in the tree, ready to savor the reward of all of those hours of watching and working.

So, as soon as Mary sends me the photos, I’ll go into detail about what snapped everything into shape. But in the meantime, let me tell you that I will be ignoring the piled up laundry and Valentine’s cards that need mailing to be as intent and focused as that eagle.

No Responses to “Snatching Ideas from Nature”

  1. Barbara O'Connor

    Isn’t it just the BEST feeling to make a breakthrough like that!

    I’m jealous….I’m still just building up word count….and mailing Valentine’s cards.
    Barbara O’C

  2. rachel

    Kirby, I think you are such an amazing writer and person. I always gain insights about writing and life from your blog. Your posts are so motivating and inspiring for me as I am currently working on my first young adult novel. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so that I can learn and grow from your writing experiences!

  3. Cuppa Jolie

    I SO have a thing for eagles. Maybe I’ll have to tell you how I feel they are signs…but then you might think I’m coo-coo (but maybe you already think that anyway).

    Love that you had this breakthough. I think I’ve been in a bit of that spinning-my-wheels state. I’m so curious about this long sheet of paper and how you got to the heart of it all!

  4. Kirby Larson

    As soon as Mary has time to email me the photos, I will explain how I got to the breakthrough. Not everyone can have Mary walk them through a tough spot but I’m trying to encourage her to start her own blog from which we could all learn tons and tons.