Inspire: Birds (Part 1)

So today, I shall tell you, dear readers, about my latest project.

As some of you may know, the Writer’s of the Future contest deadline is approaching, and only recently did I have a story concept developed enough that I wanted to really pursue it. Lo and behold, 1.5 weeks later and with about one week left, I’m on a roll, spinning this tale like a potter atop a merry-go-round.

One of the fun things about writing stories, for me anyway, is some of the back research needed to set the tone and detail the setting well. The story I am writing for the contest, which I’m torn between entitling “What Happens To Dead Vultures?” and “The Phoenix Pearl,” is, as you might have inferred, about birds. When it’s complete, perhaps I’ll shamelessly make a link to a post somewhere online for public viewage.

The story is more or less a creation myth, as told by what we know today as vultures. There are some familiar characters – cranes, eagles, a condor and hell, even a goose. This is not Animal Farm, this is more along the lines of Hero’s Journey myth.

But what I’ve had a grand old time researching was a variety of birds, and in my internet travels I came across this beauty:


One can never run out of cool stuff on Wikipedia.

I was astounded by this thing. Why haven’t I heard about a hoatzin before?

Now, I suppose I could dedicate an entire post to birds – I have a sort of thing for animals and science – but looking at this creature, I could invent a myth about it. There’s something awfully phoenix-y about it, eh? Despite the fact that it makes its home in the branches of Amazonian trees.

Birds symbolize things we’ve all heard before: grace, freedom, flight, pride and all that. But they’re often misunderstood, or simply not understood at all. You know all that lovely singing you hear when going for a stroll in the woods? Those sparrows and larks aren’t singing because they’re happy, they’re essentially shouting off rivals and cat-calling mates. I’ve seen similar behavior on the streets of New York near a construction zone.

There are thousands of birds to choose from for any amount of reasons. The hoatzin I displayed above is not necessarily my favorite bird, but it makes the list of newly discovered Top Ten. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually post a list.

During part 2 of this Inspire: Birds series, though, we will discuss birds that inspire fear in yours truly, and I’ll talk about how I harnessed that and use it in my writing.

Until next time, consider from what birds might you derive inspiration. Let me know if you’ve a favorite, even!


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