How an essay comes to be.

A pigeon falls on your windshield. Or a similarly odd, potentially transformative event happens to you. Despite the fact that you’ve been remiss in your commitment to write regularly, you feel that familiar tug… you want to describe the incident of the bird falling on your car (or whatever. insert your event here). When you begin to type you realize that there’s something else going on, something beyond actual events, i.e. a pigeon falling out of the sky on to your windshield as you hurtle down the highway at 70 mph. Whump! As you describe how the sound of the bird hitting the glass was so loud that you thought your windshield might crack and how your heart pounded and how you felt thankful that the bird was not, say, a tire, or a ladder fallen from a truck, or a boulder, you think back through the flashing reel of other events in your life involving birds and realize there is pattern, and metaphor, and the potential for an essay, were these bird-related incidents grouped in the right way and tied to other meaningful moments. You may also consider that it’s a little odd that you’ve had so many accidental interactions with wild birds, but you let this thought fly away, unexplained. There is an essay forming in your mind, and you being to chronicle other times when your life has collided (so to speak) with a bird’s or birds’. In doing so, the other stuff, the meaningful moments, the life-changing events that were already occurring when the birds found their way to you or you found your way to them, that stuff comes out. Suddenly it’s on the page, and while it may be rough and perhaps a little odd, this intersection of life and birds, it’s soon an essay, one you want to rewrite and polish and send out to magazines. And it never would have come to be without that pigeon falling out of the sky, wing over wing, beak over tail, and leaving a gray smudge on the glass, a fog through which you must travel from now on.


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