Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sitting on eggs - hatching creativity



"Sits on eggs" was the crossword puzzle clue.

The space was too long for hens, too short for chickens. My brain chugged to a start, trying to figure out what would fit. Crosswords are often humbling for my poor brain. The foreign words are challenges; the literary references are above my pedestrian taste.


But I'm an author, I say to myself. Surely, I can come up with a word that means sits on eggs.

But what?

I tapped my pen on the newspaper, hoping for inspiration, lightning, or both.

A moment later, it came to me: broods.

I hadn't thought about brooding as sitting on eggs since I was a kid. As an author, I tend to brood more about the amount of promotion I can't get to, about the reviews I need to garner, about the manuscript I hope to get contracted, and more.

That got me to thinking. If brooding is sitting on eggs, that's definitely waiting, but it's a creative/fertile waiting because something new and good is going to hatch from it.

Like keeping the home fires burning, brooding for writers is more productive when you focus your energies on "eggs" within your reach.

Can you control how many people review your book? No.

Can you control what the reviews say or how many stars there are? No.

Can you control if an editor will contract your book? No.

Can you control how well edited your submission is? Yes.

Can you control your weekly word count? Yes.

I discovered that I tend to brood about tasks/chores I'm not fond of. "Ugh, I've got to weed my flower beds," I'll think - for days - before I finally stir myself to doing it. Another source of my brooding, "What will I cook for dinner?" When we're on diets, I go to the diet book and fix what it says. And because we're being strict about the diet, all of the ingredients will be on hand. Normally I grocery shop by the seat of my pants; that's how I cook too, and in a hurry. It's never great, but it's decent and digestible.

No point in brooding about either of these jobs. They have to be done. And pretty routinely or there are negative consequences.

Dang! What else have I been wasting energy on? I can do better! I need to nurture those eggs!

What about you? Is there something you brood about that isn't productive? Can you rephrase your thoughts about it and move forward?

Maggie Toussaint
www.maggietoussaint.com

In For A Penny, now on Kindle:
Murder in the Buff, Ariana finalist
Death, Island Style - at your library!

38 comments:

  1. As you were writing about the missing word, I thought "broods." And you've used that word to a T. What do I brood about? Not a lot--I'm not a natural worrier, but when I do, it's usually one big thing--or maybe not so big--and always something I can do nothing about.
    Now, when we think about that, it sounds stupid, doesn't it?

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    1. It's amazing how something so simple as a crossword puzzle clue can shed a whole new light on things.

      Trying to keep focused on things we can change is the trick...

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  2. What do I brood about? Not much, but now you may have gotten me started obsessing about what I should be obsessing about.

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    1. Hi Margaret, I hope I didn't send you down the wrong path! It's great that you don't brood. I tend to brood more when it's hot and I'm sluggish with lethargy. My thoughts go right to all those things left undone. Hoping you blank this post from your already tuned brain! Maggie

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  3. I tend to brood a lot. Right now I brood about what to do next. I call it pondering the next step in my life. Keep writing or give it up and brush the bridge! Seriously I wonder if it's worth wasting so much energy to get more readers, more reviews, lower ranking; I'm bitting my nails while brooding and worse, nibbling on the babana cake I baked for the grandkids. Why can't I enjoy life day by day and not care about the outcome!

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    1. Mona,

      I understand that line of thinking quite well. It takes a lot to sustain momentum in publishing, and then a bit extra to push forward into the next realm.

      Thinking of what comes next though is a good way to start arranging choices and looking at pros and cons. I find once I can break down a problem, any problem, into steps, it becomes easier to move ahead.

      Have a brood, then gather those thoughts into something positive!

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  4. I brood about whether I should stop doing what I am doing at the time ( usually something writer orientated)or should I being doing the housework.I don't usually waste a lot of time over it though. The housework soon gets dismissed. But then housework is not very creative and rarely enjoyable.

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    1. Amelia,

      Perhaps we're twins separated at birth. Writing definitely trumps housework, unless there's company coming or you can't see the monitor for all the dust on the screen.

      It'll all get done, tomorrow, maybe.

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  5. Yikes, everyone sounds too much like me!!! We all want to get somewhere and are getting frustrated at various stages along the way.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Morgan,

      At least we all have ambition to get something done. I have great faith in all of us. We can take our brooding thoughts and turn them into positive energy to get us to that next level. We just need to channel our Inner Energizer Bunny.

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  6. Oh boy, do I brood. :-) I brood because I'm behind on every aspect of my life it seems. Gardens need weeding? YES! Behind on Guppy digests? Almost always. Letters to write, phone calls and appointments to make? yes. The library table cleaned off so I can find stuff? Yes. House to clean? Yes. Incidentally, I didn't guess the answer to the crossword puzzle, either, and I have 5 hens. That's another thing I brood about. Their chicken coop needs cleaned and I keep putting off that most unpleasant job. I also have baskets of tomatoes to can and cucumbers to make bread and butter pickles with and green beans to freeze. And then there's the writing calling me.

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    1. I don't blame you for putting off cleaning that chicken coop, Gloria. Chicken poo is worse than a cat litter box, and that makes my eyes water. I've been in my share of chicken coops, and I know that you're a good chicken mother, so the coop will get done. And you'll get that stuff canned because it would be wasteful not to.

      I get really behind. Today was my goal was to tackle the mail after a week away. I'm mostly caught up on that now, just a few unresolved issues.

      I give you leave to not brood at all tomorrow. Do what your heart desires. Then when your thoughts wander, edge in some of that other stuff. Or not, depending.

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  7. Maggie, can you see the bruises where you stepped on my toes? ☺ I have been brouding about my WIP - should I have a sex scene and, if so, how do I lead up to it? Now that I've decided to up the emotional stakes and include one, how to lead into it? Dither, dither, dither.

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    1. I hear you, Caroline. Because my books blend genres, I'm now having my romance fans asking me to put sex scenes in my cozies. That's not going to happen, but the request was a big surprise to me all the same.

      One of the thoughts that goes through my head at the start of writing a love scene is that I'll do it so poorly that everyone will laugh. So then I have the characters do something that releases the tension and causes them to laugh and get into it more. Works for me.

      Delete
  8. Great metaphor! We authors do an awful lot of brooding all right.
    Mostly, it is over the things we can't control. More's the pity!

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    1. Hi Jacqueline,

      I never knew I was such a worrier/brooder until I became a full-fledged writer. Publishing is a tough business and insecurity seems to grow like weeds in a fertile imagination. I can't believe all the technical stuff I've attempted in the name of publishing. And you know what? I didn't fall on my face too bad. And the times I did, I picked myself up and got going again.

      Sitting on eggs is my way of restructuring my thought process. I'm going to focus on what I can do and keep looking ahead. That's my plan, anyway.

      Delete
  9. Nice reminder to let things go that are out of our control! Hard to do, though. Maybe we should all put a basket of fake eggs on our desks to remind ourselves not to brood! (Not that I have space on my desk.)

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    1. LK, I was thinking about keeping a little basket of chocolate eggs on my desk, but that wouldn't last very long.

      The trick is to realize when you're brooding. That isn't as easy as it sounds.

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  10. Love the analogy, Maggie - I try not to brood on things I can't affect so this is a good reminder!

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    1. Hi Rosemary,
      It's nice to have you here at Mudpies. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and hope to see you again soon!

      Delete
  11. I've been brooding about my Amazon rankings - which only has the effect of depressing me, so I've made a pledge to look at them only once a month from now on!

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    1. Ohhhh, Paula. I'm with you in that boat. Those rankings are enough to put me on a chocolate bender. While its nice to be aware of them, they shouldn't be our entire focus. (now if only I can remember that the next time I peek at my rankings)

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  12. :) Brooding is so much more positive than procrastinating. *G* I try and avoid setting things aside by updating my 'to do' list daily and prioritizing it. On the food, I keep a grocery list on the counter, and whenever I use a back-up product, I put that on the list. Each time I go to the grocery store, I pick up anything on the list. That way, I'm not doing a full shopping cart run, but a few manageable things, which makes it easier all of the way around. And, I usually combine errands. I try and do at least three things if I'm out. Interesting topic. Have an amazing day! *Hugs*

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    1. Hi Diana,

      You're the queen of multi-tasking. I'm hoping to fit in your shoes one day. But I do make lists, so I'm on the right track. Thanks for taking the time to visit!

      Delete
  13. It's so easy to waste valuable energy brooding about things we cannot change. Thanks for the excellent post.

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    1. Hi Joanne,

      Our energy is indeed valuable. Good word choice. Let's spend that energy on something useful!

      Delete
  14. Oh, no, I only brood about productive things.....LOL

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  15. Great blog, and I would have still been naming every bird and reptile that lays eggs instead of coming up with broods.

    There's one you left off your list that I brood about all the time:
    We cannot control how many people buy our books. I've wasted far too much time on that one.

    Now, off to do something far more productive! Like finish the proposal I'm working on.

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    1. Hi Lynne,

      Sometimes I think I'd be better served to buy 500 copies of my book and give them all away than to spend hour upon hour pestering folks all over cyberspace in hopes they'll click on a buy link.

      I hope your proposal goes well.

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  16. I'm a good brooder. I do it well. But if only the eggs I sat on would hatch. Darn eggs. Great blog and thanks Lynne M. for directing me here. : )

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    1. Hi Robena,

      So glad you dropped by and thanks to Lynne for the directions. A little brooding is all we need - just enough to realize we're doing it. Then it helps to shift the focus or we'll crack those eggs from inertia!

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  17. Hi Maggie - I definitely brood and then kick myself when the task I've brooded about turns out to be not so bad. All that wasted angst! I'm a big believer in the wisdom that "emotion follows action" but not a faithful follower of said wisdom!

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    1. Keely! ((squee)) I'm always happy to see you here. And I hear you on the wasted angst. We should pour that into a book. Or two. Or however many it takes. Hugs!

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  18. Yes, Maggie. I brood too, and by the way, I didn't come up with the answer to the crossword. I brood about why I'm still on the computer when I have my manuscript printed out waiting for me to redline it. I also brood about why I don't have a wife to do all the things I don't want to do. But I'm glad I stopped by your blog, because now I'm going to close down the computer and get to work. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

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    1. Polly,

      You're absolutely right. A wife would be perfect for those extra tasks. But my luck, I'd get a bossy one and she'd make me do all the crap tasks. Guess I'll just muddle on in my own hit-or-miss style.

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  19. Hi Maggie. Yes, I am a brooder same as everyone else. I am getting better at not brooding so much though. The trick is to know when to get something done or move on.

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    1. Welcome Zequeatta,

      It's hard to stop brooding once you've made a habit of it. But I think most of us are aware of what we're doing. There's too much we need to get done to brood forever. Finding that balance point of "Okay I've done enough of this" is individual, and my hope is that each of us is now more aware of how we're spending our time.

      Speaking of which, I need to head back to the paper. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

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