The Birds

Growing up, I was terrified of birds.

Completely terrified.

I was reminded of that fact recently when I was browsing through Pinterest and came across this pin…

bird girl

That so could have been me.

Seeing this poor child made me remember how much I hated birds as a kid.

It may have started when I was four and my mom sent me to the chicken coop to gather the eggs. The chickens seemed huge and scary, especially when they squawked and fussed as I attempted to collect the eggs. In the fuzzy recesses of my memory, it seems like one of them flew at me, at which point I ran screaming to the house, refusing to ever set foot in the chicken coop again.

I just knew the chickens were out for blood – or they were going to peck out my eyeballs.

Fast forward a few years… I often babysat my brother’s kids and walked to his house, past this old shop where starlings liked to build nests in the rafters and dive bomb me when I walked by. With them flogging my head, it cemented my earlier fears of birds. I would take one of two approaches when going past the shop. 1. Tiptoe quietly and hope they didn’t hear me or 2. Run as fast as I could and hope I could get by before they came shooting outside, intent on pecking out my eyeballs.

At some point crows, magpies, sparrows, seagulls, and most other feathered fiends joined my list of fearsome foes.

After college, I spent several years as a newspaper reporter. During that time frame, I had run-ins with a nasty-tempered ostrich, some aggressive rheas, and a horrible encounter with crazy people who turned the inside of their house into a bird cage. Honest to goodness – there wasn’t a single room in their two-story home that didn’t have parrots or cockatiels flying loose in it. Being in that house made me want to crawl right out of my skin and run screaming back to my truck. I just knew every single one of those birds was plotting how they were going to peck out my eyeballs.

As you can tell, my lifelong fear of birds has not gotten any better.

What it has done, though, is given me some fun, weird experiences to include in a book at some point.

Think back on your childhood fears and dramas.

What experience can you turn into something that would be a great addition to a story?

What hang ups can you use to develop a quirky character?

Draw from your memories and see what you can come up with.

And while you’re doing that, stay away from birds. They’ll peck out your eyeballs.

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