Untangling the tangled.


    To the person who has never seen or made one of these before, this probably looks like the craft project of a three-year old preschooler. 

     This messy looking thing is called a bird nesting globe, and it was made by someone who hasn’t been three for a very long time: me. I’ve been attending various bird/nature classes at an ecospirituality center not far from where I live. It is an amazing place with 70 acres of trees, trails, small cottages to rent for a day or a week, and a staff that puts on many such classes and educational events throughout the year.  

     We filled the center of this ball with torn balls and shreds of cotton batting, short strands of yarns, twine, tiny fabric scraps or strips of denim and wove it in and around this varnished grapevine globe. I tied a long length of twine to the top of the globe and hung it high up in the white pine trees close to our bird feeders. Very soon the birds will come and pull these materials out through my well-intentioned aid and carry them off to build their nests for this season. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching for new nests around the yard to see if they contain any of the familiar materials gleaned from my tangled “mess.” 

     Several weeks back I asked a competent writing buddy if she would lend a sharp eye to two pieces I was getting ready to submit to a writing competition. I was fairly pleased with the first one, but the second story was proving a struggle for me. She agreed, and a few days later the two pieces came back with WORD Track Changes all over them. 

     I studied everything she’d indicated, and agreed with much of it—not all, but much, so I tore back into the tangled messes she’d returned to me. The one I thought was fairly well done, really wasn’t after I reviewed her marks. I went back to the drawing board with both of them and many, many hours and a couple of days later they both had grown up substantially, and I was satisfied to submit them for contest consideration. 

     Very soon lots of birds will hover around that newly hung nesting ball, venturing in closer so they can pull out what they think they can use for their nests. They’ll fly back to where it is under construction and they’ll peck, poke, prod, weave and arrange until they are satisfied that they have the result they want with which to start their new project: the next brood in their family lineage.

     We really do want our work to come back full of track changes, challenging questions as to why we did something—or didn’t—and conspicuous grammatical errors pointed out. It is the only way we improve. 

     If the wrens, finches and sparrows can confront a tangled mess of yarns, twines and fabric to produce an effective nest, we as writers can do the same from highly edited copy of our work. 

     It should never be about supporting the ego. It should always be about writing better.


8 thoughts on “Untangling the tangled.

  1. What a pleasant surprise. You tied-in making a yarn-ball for birds with cleaning up our writing.

    You did a very creditable job of tying the two things together.

    Good job. Love it.

  2. I am finally catching up on my reading, and this was an excellent choice to begin with. It informs, entertains and gives me some solid “meat” to take away and use as a writer.

    I love that you have the project with the birds, we too are big into that though I have never done this project, I may now.

    I love that you tied it into the writer and the feedback we solicit and sometimes “regret” getting. LOL. However, like you, I am often blessed and challenged by the feedback, and become a better writer for it.

    Thank you for this insightful piece which as usual, amazes me that you can condense such wisdom into such a small package. I have read authors on the subject of writers/feedback etc. that created whole books without making the point as “memorable” as you have.

    You have something to say, so keep saying it.

  3. Interesting analogy!!! I liked your comment, “and agreed with much of it—not all.” When we edit, we need to respect the author’s voice and not attempt to make it our own. Likewise, when we receive feedback, we need to stay true to our own style of writing and not allow ourselves to be forced into the editor’s model of ‘correctness’. BTW–am looking forward to building nesting globes with the g-kids if I can find grapevine globes here in the hinterlands.

    • Hey, there Editor! I thought you’d enjoy this one!

      You may be able to find the grapevine globes at Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby in Sioux Falls (?)….or you can make your own, but be sure to varnish the finished ball so it withstands the outdoor elements. Or even easier yet—just use the mesh bags that onions, apples and other fruits come in. This works just as well. Stuff them full of batting and yarns, and tie them shut at the top with string and hang. It doesn’t have to be in globe shape or necessarily grapevine.

  4. Becky, comparing the tangled bird nest project to your writing project was an interesting analogy. I liked this a lot. Now you’ve got me wondering where this wonderful place is located near Cedar Rapids. I wish I had more time to explore when I’m back there in June, but when it’s all over, my brother and I have to get back to our own states. I would still like more details about this eco center you mentioned. Do they have a web site? Let me know.

    Great blog.

    • Thanks for this, Betty! Nice to run into you out here again. I keep intending to set up my blogroll, etc, etc, and get your site out here on my site, so stay tuned. Soon, I promise–

      Here’s the web site for Prairiewoods here in Hiawatha/Cedar Rapids: http://prairiewoods.org. It is a spectacular spiritual/nature center.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s