Riding the tide of a great story

Quick check-in with the NaNoWriMo-ers. Continuing to plug away? There’s still time to hunker down and create your masterpiece, you just have to want it bad enough to set aside the time to “just do it” (and besides, wasn’t that what nights were invented for?)


Zelda as a hen (Version 1.0)

I have been pecking away at my project and currently have around 23,000 words, but not to worry. I’ve been known to add up to 10,000 at one (crazy) sitting. And, I’m the type of person who thrives on a deadline – so it’s all good.

But today I want to talk to the article writers out there. You know the ones who write for magazines, newspapers, and even blogs (or those that hope to someday.)

As many of you know, I have a flock of chickens and I write about my chickens for several publications and on my blog.

We recently (over the last year) had a situation in our flock where a grey hen turned into a golden brown and grey rooster (she didn’t exactly turn into a male but she did start showing classic male features.) This is not *that* unusual among chickens – you talk to any old-time farmer and they can usually come up with a story of a hen turning into a rooster. It could happen as the result of injury, illness, or even hen-o-pause. Whatever – we had a transgender chicken in our flock, we still loved her.

But then slowly over the last summer and then sometime in the last 3 months, our chicken changed again. This time she changed from being a multicolored rooster into a white hen.

I know crazy, right?

I put the information up on my blog, Twitter, Facebook,and even on Reddit.

And then I saw my blog numbers go up, they went way up – almost 5 times the traffic I normally got. It turns out that NO ONE had ever seen this in a chicken. Hmmm, said the writer and storyteller in me, this is a story that is not only drawing attention but is creating conversation.

I am not telling you this to teach you about chickens (although, if you have a free moment, I’ll gladly talk your ear off about our flock) I’m telling you this because as a writer, you always have to have your finger on the pulse of your readers.

The pulse was pounding on this one. If a story on my blog was creating that much buzz, then it is a story worthy of a publication (magazine.) Yesterday I started pitching magazine editors on this story. Depending on the angle, I can probably get this story into a few different publications. I can use a New Hampshire/local angle, a “WTF” angle, a chicken angle, and I could even turn it into a lesson about accepting things (people) for who they are.

As a writer, that makes me happy.

Moral of this story:

Pay attention to your audience’s response to your work and in particular watch the statistics. When you see increased activity, pounce on it. Ride that tide, turn the story on its head to figure out different angles, and then get those article pitches out.

It’s what writers do.

Update: Just heard back from a magazine editor and an article on this story has been placed in a poultry magazine.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

13 thoughts on “Riding the tide of a great story

  1. There are lots of information here to digest for me in one setting (old brain gets crowded more easily lately) I am particularly interested with transgender chickens and how to spot them 🙂 I have no idea that chickens go through similar phases as humans including changing colours , coming out of the closet and all. Highly interesting…

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