How Writing Makes You Like an Insane Bird

About two weeks ago, my hubbo awoke to a sporadic knock.  “Do you year that?”

I did. I was up then, thankyouverymuch, and just as rattled by the knocks as he was.

We followed the sound and discovered a robin was repeatedly flying into our sliding glass door on the back patio, the entire pane streaked with droppings and flecks of blood.

Every time we’d step into its view, the bird would fly to a nearby tree; every time we moved away, it returned to its perch on the outer edge of our deck table and, there, it would gather its bearings before it thrust itself into the glass again.  And again. And again.  For about half an hour, until the beagle took an interest and kept watch in front of the door.

Every morning since, the bird has kept at this. We have no idea why. The Internet said robins can be territorial and, if they’ve built a nest in the vicinity and happen to see their reflection in a window, they might think it’s another bird and try to attack it.  But there really aren’t any trees THAT close to the sliding glass door for that to be the case, I don’t think.  And, furthermore, why every morning?  It’s just so strange.

The poor thing is, like, killing itself, peck after peck on the pane. It HAS to hurt.  There’s blood on the window, after all. So why does it keep doing this??  We can only figure that it must be insane.

It occurred to me that this is probably what a lot of what I call “normal” people* think about writers. Why quit your day job—or KEEP your day job, but dedicate all your hours of “down time” (heh) to writing? Facing rejection can practically leave blood stains on your laptop screen as well—and it can definitely take time to recover.

Wouldn’t it be much easier to occupy your time doing something that was stable? Steady? That if you put in the time and dedication it takes, it’s a sure thing? What possesses writers to query again? Revise again? Write again?

I’m not sure I have a good answer for the normal people.  I suppose we seem as cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as the mama robin who’s pecking herself into brain damage because it’s as important to writers—to me—to keep on going—to make it—to try to make it—as it is for that bird to do whatever the eff she’s trying to do to our door.  She can’t explain it to me because I probably couldn’t understand.

And I think the same thing applies here. It’s not something writers can help.  Call it a mental condition if you want. But as sure as I know that robin’s going to be stippling the end of our deck table with white, black, and red tomorrow morning, I know I’m going to be thinking about my career—my manuscripts—my next speaking engagement—the Write-Brained Network—probably all hours of the night, whether it’s good for me or not.

It’s not that I enjoy the concussions—of course I don’t—but it’s something I can’t control.  It’s how I’m wired, faulty wiring or not.

If you’ve never had the itch to hurl yourself against the hard surface of some kind of cause or vocation, I can’t explain it to you because you won’t get it.  All I can say is, peck peck peck, baby.



12 thoughts on “How Writing Makes You Like an Insane Bird

  1. I know what you mean, Ricki. I just keep telling myself that the concussions and bruises will eventually pay off. 😉

    As for the robin, have you tried hanging a curtain up over the door? Seems to help with our birds, and with all the feeders by our living room windows and deck, we have a lot of birds!

  2. Wow. This hit so close to home. I hope the blood, sweat, and tears eventually pay off – for both of us. Until then, I’ll be perfoming many random acts of insanity with my netbook.

    Great analogy, Ricki. I love Tom’s about the birdseed as well. Ha. I think teachers have this pecking craziness!

  3. It’s a bit of an addiction. Sure, the concussions hurt but we keep coming back for more. I wonder what that bird saw on the other side of the window. Must have been one helluva worm mirage.

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