Mining My Mind for Inspiration

Friday, November 06, 2009
By Jill Earl

I was pleased that this year’s Muse Online Writers Conference offered a workshop on pet writing. I appreciated the brainstorming assignments the instructor gave, where I could dig into some of those dusty memories. And since I belong to an online critique group, I’ve got a great way to shape them into submission-ready pieces.

So what am I working on? My time at a now-defunct pet store in a local mall, where animals ranging in age from a few weeks weaned to about a year old. Pair that with on-the-job training for very green employees (except for the managers) and workdays were seldom dull for this former kennel and bird technician.

For instance, there was Harry the mynah bird, who we discovered could tell the difference between human males and females. A male would walk by and the bird would call out a cheery, “Hello! Hello!” When a female walked by, she heard, “Hel-LO!” in a definite ‘come hither, baby’ way. Nothing like being hit on by a bird!

Then there was the time when a know-it-all new employee refused to heed advice on cleaning birdcages properly. A cockatiel escaped one day and shortly after, we heard a series of screams as women in various stages of pregnancy flew out of the maternity shop next door. That day, the new guy learned the joys of netting a frantic cockatiel.

We had killer hamsters too. They delighted in leaving---umm---souvenirs of their victims in their tank for us staffers to deal with. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Many more memories lie in wait for me to excavate and take note of, and my draft folder’s filling up with ideas ready to be worked on.

So when you’re at a loss for what to write, try a little mining expedition. You’ll soon be unearthing your own writing treasures.


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