My Life With Gracie…Themes And Conflicts And Character Flaws (Oh, My!)

Sometimes The Only Light Is You

My “vacation time” away from posting new stories and illustrations was very helpful. In the evenings, I would sit with my chickens, read one of several how-to-write-a-novel books from the library, and then jot down ideas in a small notebook. (Some of those ideas from the notebook were used in the background of today’s main illustration.) Then in the mornings, I would type away.

One of the easiest suggestions I read was to be sure that there is a central message or theme to the novel. It should be short. It should be a summary of the entire novel. It should make potential readers wonder more about the novel. You can read it in the words for today’s illustration: “Sometimes the only light is you.”

But everything else was not so easy. With a post story, I most often write about cute little chickens doing cute little things to hold a reader’s interest for just a few short minutes. But a novel has a much longer reading time. Cute does not last long in a novel.

A novel usually needs a main character who has a conflict situation (what the external surface plot is about) and a character flaw (what the real internal story is about). There has to be one “What will happen next?” moment after another.

When writing posts, I almost always present my chickens as “living in the best situation ever and being just about the best chickens ever.” Hardly ever any conflicts. Hardly ever any flaws.

One of the most difficult thing about having chickens as main characters is making their lives and problems relevant to readers. (It has to be about more than finding worms.)

Hopefully all of these difficult things have been accomplished in this short excerpt.

Today is the new day my life will begin...

“Today is the day my new wonderful life will begin,” said Pearl, though there were no other chickens nearby to hear her.

It was the day Pearl had been anticipating. It was the day when her life would finally make sense and come together. It was the day when she would be a hen, accepted and loved by all the others at last. It was the day she was going to lay her first egg.

“I can just feel it,” she told me when I brought out their breakfast salad. “Do I look any different yet? I just know I’m going to look different.”

“You look much happier, Pearl. You truly do,” I said.

She felt as if she must surely glow with joy in the early morning sunlight. She had a few bites of chopped apple to fortify herself for her triumph.

“Finally I will fit in, and the others will love me,” she told me as she headed up to the nesting boxes. “I can hardly wait to start soaking up all of that love!”

The others continued eating their favorites from the breakfast salad. Laying eggs was something they did every day. They did not understand what the big fuss was about.

This was nothing new for Pearl. She had never been understood by the other chickens.

“You must fit in. You must not stand out from the flock,” they would tell her. “If you really feel like you need to be yourself, then you need to go somewhere and do it alone, with no one else looking.”

Pearl did not care whether she was understood or not. She only wanted to be loved.

None of the others except for Blanche ever wanted to be around her, not even when it was time to roost at night. She tried to be like the others with all she knew how to do, and then the next minute there would be another chicken calamity. Feathers would get ruffled. Pearl’s head would get pecked.

“Be.” Peck. “A.” Peck. “Normal.” Peck. “Chicken.” Peck.

“Why can’t you just be a normal chicken?” is what she would hear every day.

Pearl was an outcast.

Once she laid her first egg, she would be a hen just like the others. She would fit in, and her life would turn around for the better. It was what Pearl believed. It was what I hoped.

But not everything turns out the way we believe and hope.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

The novel I’m working on is based on two posts from last December titled “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In the novel, Pearl will be “The Only Light” in The Bottle Cap Lady’s life.

By the way, the title of today’s post is a reference to “Lions And Tigers And Bears! Oh, My!” from the film “The Wizard of Oz” which was used as an example in several how-to books.

37 thoughts on “My Life With Gracie…Themes And Conflicts And Character Flaws (Oh, My!)”

  1. Hi to all of you!

    Well, I think your past short stories included a lot of conflicts (beyond finding worms)…e.g. Amelia questioning her life in the coop and struggling with her adventurous spirit and her dream to fly to the moon…

    It is nice to get to know beautiful Pearl better…I like the teaser and feel with her.
    Please, let her know that she doesn`t need to lay an egg to be loved. If you have to perform to be appreciated, it is not “you” who is respected …it is most probabyl just the egg laying.
    The capability to lay an egg doesn`t make up your Self.
    Finally, everybody dreams of unconditional love becuase it frees you from the pressure to meet others expectations.

    Maybe, you can explain Pearl how a pearl develops…?
    There is usually a “stranger” who finds her/his way into an oyster.
    The newbie is not disliked. She/he is simply irritating the oyster.
    The intruder is not regarded as an “outcast” at all. The oyster doesn`t try to get rid of her/him.
    The oyster rather embraces her/him. It uses a fluid for coating the irritant. Layer upon layer of coating is added patiently.
    Till the oyster doesn`t perceive the newbie as a stranger anymore and is familiar with her.
    Actually, the oyster doesn`t try to transform the stranger into an oyster to fit in.
    Layer upon layer “nacre” (= coating fluid) is deposited till the beautifully lustrous “PEARL” is formed – celebrating her uniqueness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your insightful comments could not have come at a better time! I am working on the part of our next book where Pearl reflects on all that has happened, all of the challenges she has had to face, and which she met…I love the analogy you present of how each new difficulty is in actuality just another layer of beauty which makes us larger and more beautiful than before, that is, if we let our difficulties transform us. And Pearl is definitely persistent. She will prevail, no matter what. That’s just one of the reasons I love her so much. Her strength is actually in her uniqueness!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. You to are quite a treasured pearl to us!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that`s what I wanted to say! You words are much more beautiful, colorful and concise than mine.
        Frankly speaking, I`m a bit frustrated because I cannot express myself in English well.
        But it is great that you like the analogy…and I`m very curious to learn how Pearl is developing and find her place in the world (like her siblings)….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You have nothing to worry about! Your English is “eine Million” times better than my German. (See how I picked words that are practically the same?!? That is “playing it safe”!) Big ideas about life and the heart can seem to be very difficult to express in any language. Analogies work in most any language!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, in school and at work you do not learn a lot of emotional vocabulary with many facets of emotions…
        The advantage from my experience…if somebody wants to insult you or is unfriendly, you do not catch it to 100% due to a lack of vocabulary neither…
        😀😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. PS: The addition of nacre layers could be compared with adding joint experiences, shared stories & emotions and challenges mastered by Pearls entire chicken family as team…to get to know each other and build up a loving & caring relationship.
    Thus, it would be sad if Pearl withdraw herself…also by trying to be someone else who she is not.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Admittedly, I like happy-ends.
        Reality is tough enough and not always fair. It is important not to lose ones belief in balancing justice. Otherwise, you might end up as somebody playing unfairly and overpowering others.

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts about storytelling / writing. You are doing fine.

        Referring your concern that your short stories might become too “flat” (cit: “…it is not easy to write about chickens…writing about finding worms only”), I thought spontaneously that personalities are often exciting if they have got many colors…inner conflicts or undergo a development…which means that they are often not only good hearts only.
        You can add another color also by introducing an additional character who challenges your chickens good treats like: integrity, authenticity, selflessness & courage etc., of course.
        In general, I think that it is easier to identify yourself with others who are not always perfect.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I don’t think I could go back to recreating those happy little baby chick stories again. Even if I wanted to, and at least until I get a new group of baby chicks to raise. That won’t happen until these have joined Blanche. Life only moves in one direction, and we have to move with it. It’s like I told Gracie recently, “Sometimes I wish we could go back to when you were all just baby chicks. Life seemed so much easier then.” But they have changed, and I have changed with them. Perhaps my little backyard is a small reflection of all of life?!?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, it is definetely…and even more.
        Because your backyard reflects life in more than one dimension. There is an outward life and an inner life. The latter is often much more chatoyant than the outer one.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you for teaching me a new word: chatoyant! It does seem to fit very well with what we have been writing back and forth about, doesn’t it?!? What a great word!

        Like

      1. …okay, I was too lazy to use a dictionary when searching in my brain cells for the fitting wording to be honest.

        But I wanted to translate “schillernd” (and not “schimmernd / shimmering” = a shiny surface).
        There is a slight difference, indeed.
        If something is “schillernd / chatoyant” it is not only shimmering but it possess multiple colors that change according to your angle of view.
        Cats eyes are also called chatoyant…or opals, moon stones.

        As you can see, in my mother tongue I am usually very precise and try to hit the right tone. Thus, I feel like a barbarian or autist while using English language.

        However, obviously I`ve revealed my German-French family roots …including some viking blood. 😉

        Therefore, our joint world trip might end in the far North…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Hopefully Pearl’s adventures will not disappoint. The time away has been good for not only reading about writing but also practicing what I’ve been reading about writing. I may share some of the books that have been most helpful to me in a post or two even though not everyone who reads “My Life With Gracie” is a writer like you. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree. Hopefully it will leave readers rooting for Pearl to succeed! It’s not easy to write heartbreaking stories. I want everyone to be happy and safe all the time, but then that doesn’t make for much of a plot!

      Liked by 1 person

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