Friday, October 22, 2010

Alligators and Imagination

Posted by Jonene Ficklin

“Mom! Mom! Come here quick. There’s an alligator in my egg.”

Okay, what's your first impression when you read that? (You get invisible bonus points if you write it down in the comment box : )

So here’s what really happened:

My eleven-year-old son came home from scouts and announced that he had to cook three meals all by himself. Also, they had to be things that he would eat if he were camping. Now he can make a killer PB&J, but that’s the limit of his cooking expertise. So we start with the basics. Fried eggs. A camping favorite.

I stay in the kitchen, but keep a safe distance, ready to save the day if he starts a fire or something.

He’s happy as a clam over at the stove, cracking eggs onto our big camp griddle. And then he says the alligator thing.

What??? I’m four steps away and he’s blocking the view.

Have you ever noticed how the curious mind – not satisfied with waiting to see – goes right to work? It builds wild and crazy explanations in an effort to make sense where there is none.

So as I’m crossing the room, the ideas begin flowing:

Hypothesis 1: Somehow an alligator egg got mixed into my egg carton and I’m going to find its sizzling embryo curled up on the stove.

Hypothesis 2: My son said the wrong word. What might he have meant? Elevator? Calculator?

Hypothesis 3: The egg is spoiled and green.

Hypothesis 4: I have no idea what he means and these are the longest four steps I’ve taken since he was two and ran out in front of a car. (He didn’t get hit. I was the only one traumatized).

By this time, I reach him and look. As it so happens, it was none of the above. Here is a photo we took. I’m sure you can see the alligator on the left side, trying to eat the egg on the right.

Now it makes perfect sense. But my imagination is on fire and tingling. It’s awesome! I can’t help thinking about my new story. (I haven’t written a word yet. I’m not letting myself until I finish the final polishing of my current WIP, which is mere days away.)

Still, I’m neck deep in the thinking stages, and it’s marvelous! I love the rush of the initial idea, the clip of story ready to blossom into something big. I love getting to meet and then know the heroes and villains, envision the adventures, concoct the heartbreaks, the big reveals, the glorious, perfect (I hope) ending.

And if I don’t like it, I can change it . . . just like that. (Evil laugh here.) There’s an awful lot of power involved in the thinking process. I can barely wait to get to work.

And if I get writer’s block, I know just what to do to get the ideas flowing. I’ll let my son cook again. But this time, I’ll stay SIX steps away.


  1. Ha! I want an gator egg! Fun post, and I can't wait to hear all about the new story. :)

  2. ROFL! I was thinking something really GROSS! Like the child accidentally sneezed in his egg, leaving something long and green in there! *ewww!*

    Jonene, how old is your boy? I think that's such a sweet story!

    Thanks for sharing that post!

    ~Elizabeth :)

  3. Leisha, I'll see if my son can make you another one. I'm sure he'll be thrilled! : )

    Elizabeth, I think you take the gross prize, but that is a totally plausible explanation, ha ha! My son is eleven and a lot of fun. Thanks!!

  4. “Mom! Mom! Come here quick. There’s an alligator in my egg.”

    "That's funny. I could have sworn we bought snake eggs. Let me see that carton again."

    That was my initial reaction. But that's a cute story. Love the thinking process too.

  5. K.L. you should write comics! That was good!

  6. I love Scribblers Cove. I wake up at 6:00 am Hawaii time, and there's already a new post to read with five comments on it!

    Great post, Jonene! I too love how the mind can take a tiny bit of information and fill in all the rest. That's our bread and butter as authors, otherwise we'd have to spend so much time describing things we'd never get on with the story.

    I thought your son had found an egg with an embryonic chick in it, and assumed it was an alligator. I'm glad the truth was a lot less disgusting.

  7. Rebecca, it's fall and raining today, so my imagination is trying hard to put me on Hawaii, ha ha, but I'm afraid it's got a long way to go before it gets there. And thankfully, we've never found a chick embryo in our eggs, but we do know someone who did - repeatedly. (They also have their own chickens, so the egg inspectors are off the hook.)

  8. What an awesome story (and imagination! for both of you)! My brain was going straight to the ick-factor and I'm not sure I would have been hurrying to see what in the world he was talking about. Wait, who am I kidding? Of course I would.

  9. Jonene! How exciting! Mine is turning 11 in 4 days! Isn't it wonderful? <3

  10. Susan, yes, it was half blatant curiosity, half in trepidation as I crossed the room. I was really glad to get a good ending!

    Elizabeth, I sure love that age! Please wish your son a happy birthday for me!


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