You Can Take a Chicken to Watermelon, But You Can’t Make Him Eat.

Most of our chickens love watermelon rinds–it’s truly their most favorite treat ever!  Super Splash, our pet silkie, somehow missed the memo.  We were sad to see him missing out, so one day we offered him a piece.  Coaxed him toward it.  And finally tried to stick his beak in it.

He was gonna love it, if only he’d try it!

I guess that’s a bit like trying to get someone to eat green eggs and ham.  He didn’t try it, wouldn’t eat it, and may have had one or two choice words for us, as well.  I can sympathize.  I mean, I love watermelon, but why is it that sometimes a good thing gets shoved in your face when we don’t feel ready to deal with it?  My recent encounter with this was in writing The Mysterious Chicken Novel, which has given me no end of trouble.  A few weeks back, I finally realized what the novel was trying to show me…and I wasn’t happy.

It wanted me to write in–

(can I say it?  dare I admit?)

First person present tense.  Gasp!

To some of you that might sound like a silly thing to get hung up on, but I have always,

–ALWAYS–

written in third person past tense.  To my way of thinking, that’s the only sensible way to write.  Sure, people have pulled off lots of other stuff, and done a beautiful job with it.  But I would no more write a book in present tense than I’d write one in chicken scratch!

Until now.

I read a very helpful article in The Horn Book that talked about the advantageous of present tense, as well as part of why it bugs some people so bad, and a few of the pieces fell into place in my head.  Chickens have little sense of past, or future.  It’s all ‘now’ for them.  And the main character whose voice we’re hearing is mature and ready to go adventuring, but is still only six months or so out of the shell.  Anything that goes back more than a few months is, for him, ancient history.  Of course he wants to tell his story in present tense!

And the funny thing is, when I stopped fighting it and stopped grumbling and rewrote the first five chapters so they were in first person present tense and then found my groove–it flowed!  I will most likely finish the novel this week, and that without straining!  Funny how things can come together when you stop fighting them.  I think Super Splash learned that, too.

Whad’ya know, watermelon IS yummy!

2 comments to You Can Take a Chicken to Watermelon, But You Can’t Make Him Eat.

  • Chris Johnson

    My current book is in first person present tense too, and I was just like you–I resisted it like crazy, but it insisted. I didn’t have a clear revelation about why it had to be that way, but it’s definitely the right thing to do. No way I’m getting my novel finished this week, though! Good for you! (And good for Super Splash, for being brave enough to try something new.)

  • Yes, I find my chickens very inspirational! 😉 Congrats on finding what works for your book–that is half the battle. And best of luck with it from here!

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