Then Came Joy – Transcript

Then Came Joy – Transcript

Episode 1, Then Came Joy, Series Right Time Write Now

Welcome to Right Time Write Now, a monthly podcast helping you to write yourself into a better place. My name is Nicola McDonald. I’m a creative coach and writer. And each month I will be coaching you through a writing exercise to reveal the joy of being human. Ready to get curious and creative? Let’s get started.

Hello, I’m so glad you’re joining me on this first episode in the series – Right Time Write Now. As a creative coach, I, for the most part, live by my own coaching philosophy. However, being human means even I can fall from good intentions, and forget for a moment the training I have. And this is where writing helps. Each podcast is designed around working with the positivity of your learning in given scenarios and situations. It is about looking at that something and changing your own dialogue or narrative around the experience. I’ll share my experience and at the end of this episode, you will be able to do the same. As a recovering perfectionist I would like to stress these exercises are not about perfection in spelling, grammar, or otherwise. If you need time to process, press pause. So please don’t get in the way of your creativity before the words hit the page. At the end of the series, if you stick to the brief, you will have written your story of approximately 7500 words. But there is no pressure for you to do this. You are not being tested. Separate each episode into chapters. How you get there will all become clear if you stick with me each month. I would like to stress that this is not a podcast on how to get published.
What you do with what you create is entirely up to you. Personally I find the achievement of completing a story of any length something to be proud of. I believe you will too. I do encourage positive language and kind self talk. Each chapter you write begins at a point in time, reaches its climax in whatever guise, then it’s nicely rounded into its conclusion all ends tied up. It’s a story in itself if you like. Be creative,
be outrageous. Words and narrative have the ability to help you escape or relive a moment in technicolour. Narrative lives and breathes. Your words are the TARDIS that transports you back when life has moved on. If you stick to the brief, you will relive joy again in the memory upon the page. And you can continue to write long after the series has ended. Writing is a way of becoming unmuddled and to express your emotions. It’s a way of taking overwhelm and sorting through the layers and acknowledging the lesson or message in the words that flow onto a page. And of course writing doesn’t have to warrant interpretation. It can simply be done for the sheer joy of it. If you need time to think, remember to use that pause button and take the time you need. Let’s get started.

The story for this episode. Here is my Right Time Write Now story. Then Came Joy. Chapter One.
I never knew I liked chickens. In fact, I had to travel all the way to Australia to discover my love for this brown feathered bird. Did you know chickens come in different colours? They can be black or blue, buff too and even cinnamon in colour.
As it turns out, one of the spices I craved most while in Australia was cinnamon, the flavour and the season that it represents is my favourite. But I digress. I tend to do this in my storytelling. So please bear with me while I go back to the beginning. I never knew I liked chickens as much as I do.
Just like you and I, the human population, their personalities are all quite different. Diversity is what makes the world keep turning. And just like that random connection with a stranger who becomes a friend, the brood of six chickens that were to affect me, they all got under my skin and picked their way into my heart. Metaphorically of course. I suppose you might think I didn’t have to travel to a place down under to meet a brood of chickens with brown silky feathers. But if I hadn’t flown over 9200 miles from home, I’d never be as wise as I am now. I cannot be certain if the opportunity I took would be waiting at a junction further down the road. I could ask myself what if I had said yes to fear instead. But it’s truly irrelevant because I chose to be brave. I said to opportunity,
Yes. And it didn’t disappoint. By choosing to get on the plane from Heathrow Airport in spite of the fear I had nurtured and my negative self talk, I met Missy with a white feathered heart right there upon her breast. Watching her and her feathered friends run around each day clucking away that was worth the hop, skip and a jump across lands and oceans. A journey only experienced upon a map until that
moment. Only one other hen in the flock of six had a name and that was Mottle. So named because well, she really is a mottled hen. Feathers sticking up and out in no particular direction at all. To call her anything different. Well, that would just be silly.

Both Missy and Mottle’s bottoms are red, their feathers barely there at all. Both hens are low in the pecking order and therefore handpicked by their leaders, the Matriarchs, as I like to call them. It didn’t stop their, clucking and plucking each morning as they greeted us at the door for a chat. I even made up dialogue for their clucks and answered them as if I were talking to friends. Have you ever done that? I
might have for example, said “I’m fine. How are you this beautiful day?” as they greeted me with a cluck or 10. “Cluck cluck cluck”, may have come the replies and I would simply say, “I’m so happy to hear that”. Just because we can’t speak each other’s language, it doesn’t mean that we can’t reach an understanding.

I had so much love for my feathered friends. Did you know chickens are drawn to the colour red? I didn’t know before I explored the habits of these feathery birds. And don’t worry, not all red bottoms are bad. If the chickens are penned in for a long time, they get bored and preen each other constantly.
That’s when it’s wise to watch out. But Missy, Mottle and friends are rescued hens enjoying life out and about racing the length and breadth of the fields, until it was time to sleep in their run away from the danger a night may bring. Missy spent much time on her own. She was definitely the introvert in the flock. But that didn’t mean she didn’t take time to socialise, not all introverts are shy. They simply need timeout
to recharge. Missy would go about her business how and when she felt, whereas some of the hens much preferred to be close to the flock, quiet in each other’s company, or clucking away like the hens they were born to be. How did we ever get them to bed? That’s a question you may ask.
Well, feeding time, in the evening time, was one of my favourite time. As soon as they hear the bucket rattle they run as if for an Olympic gold medal. For, inside that bucket was the most delicious food – scraps or veg and meat too. That’s on top of their normal cereal grains which they can
feed on from their self serving chicken feeder inside their chicken pen.

When I landed in Australia to visit my sister who had made this country her home 30 years earlier, her chickens were in the lay season. Lay season? Well you may ask. It simply means they were laying eggs. If there are 14 to 16 daylight hours the hens will lay. We had fun looking at all of the places they may lay eggs. Each morning we searched in an attempt to get to them first. If we didn’t, Sam, a very smart
dog who lived with his brother Red, and three horses alongside the brood of chickens, would sniff them out and scoff the lot, right under our noses. Not a single egg was the same size as the next. We even found one slim and tall. When we opened it up, there was no yolk at all. Nope, I’m not making it up. The chickens became wiser and laid them in places no snout or sniffer could reach them. And we, my sister and me, had eggs almost every single day. There was no cockerel around to fertilise the eggs, therefore they would never hatch into chicks.

Chicks grow to pullets within three months, and by six months they are laying eggs of their own. That’s quite fascinating, I found. Do you think so? Humans take much more time to grow up. And of course I’ve never seen a human lay eggs. Have you? Did you know that our feathery friends are descendants from the dinosaur age. If you look under a microscope, DNA is like a twisted ladder. It’s the genetic information inside the cells of the body that helps make us who we are. You could say it’s like a gaming code or the blueprints for a house. I think that’s cool. Well, the ancestors of the chickens came from dinosaurs living
millions of years ago. Domestic chickens like Missy and Mottle, with their different personalities and wonderful colours, have been around for at least 2000 years. Another thing I discovered on my fact finding mission about chickens in some cultures, they are considered sacred. The chicken
represents everything from fertility and resurrection to courage and war. Spiritually, chickens represent prosperity and abundance. Of course, the language we use in modern times can also be somewhat unkind. Calling someone a chicken is synonymous with being scared or a coward. But given what I have learned from the chickens I love, they are formidable, funny, clever and smart. Maybe you can answer
a riddle which has caused many conversations among the human population. Now you know that dinosaurs laid eggs first, and chickens are descendants of them, can you answer this question? Which came first, the egg or the chicken?

Take action. In this exercise we are beginning with the end in mind, we are focusing on the joy of the moment that we experienced when we arrived at a destination, whether the joy was physical or psychological. Sometimes in life, you’re presented opportunities. And earlier this year, I was invited,
not for the first time, to visit my sister in Australia to work on a project with her. Unlike before, I said, Yes, I had no idea how I would finance it, but I am very fortunate that I have a nurturing relationship. And somehow, a few months on, I was getting on three planes to Western Australia. My tale is a story of finding more than the experience I went for. If I had to describe it in action, I’d stretch out my arms. I felt free. Not from my husband or my children. That’s not what I mean. I was free to just be, to see a new piece of land and absorb all of it with childlike wonderment. Therefore, perhaps it’s no surprise that the childlike wonderment is reflected in the way my story flows today. Australia is vast compared to our small
island. It was a sensory feast for me, as well as a wonderful bonding experience with my sister. And the person who got on the plane, she didn’t come back. Life was the lesson I learned. Living was what I experienced. And lust is what I proceed with. Ready to have some fun? Because now it’s your turn. Grab your pen and notebook or device of choice. And remember, you can pause this podcast at any time.

This series is about an experience you’ve had, or an experience you can recall. And it is to begin with, “I never knew I liked…” It could be, I never knew I liked skydiving, or I never knew I liked olives. The object really doesn’t matter. The point is the learning that came from what you discovered. Remember to keep your experience positive and it’s okay to research information about that thing, which is evidence based. Share the joy you felt, share the journey. Remember how it made you feel. Add humour. Write it in your style, and most of all, remember to enjoy yourself. And if you don’t have an experience of note, or it’s simply been a while so it’s not upfront and foremost in your mind, decide to go and find value added meaning that gives you the joy. You can write about a someone new you met, a person who came back into your life, a dog or cat, food or drink, a gift experience. Whatever pops in that was significant, perhaps
even life altering. Something you did which you didn’t know you liked. And make a note of all that you learned from that thing that you did unfamiliar to you. Did you travel far or find that something on your doorstep? Write the who, what, when, where and how of it all in your chapter of around 1250 words.

Here’s a little help and advice on your writing. And remember to use the pause button when thoughts are triggered and make a note. Do not restrict your creativity by trying to force that which doesn’t flow naturally. Write your story as a script, a poem, or prose. Imagine your audience. Are they adults,
teenagers or children? Is it simply for you? Think of the message you wish to convey. There are no rules on how you express your voice, as long as your story actually flows. There are no rules on changing the tone and the flow from one chapter to another. Remember, this is not about being published, it’s about the joy of writing and acknowledging the learning. My go to for feedback, regardless of the genre I
choose, is my husband. His feedback is constructive and kind. Know that feedback is good. It helps you improve and see gaps that may be missing for your audience to have a full picture. Don’t fear feedback, embrace it. And in truth, you can always choose to take no notice. I’ve done that many times.

The difference between prose and poetry. For all of you fledglings taking a leap into writing, I’ll quickly explain the difference between prose and poetry. Poetry is more expressive than prose with rhythm, rhyme and comparison, contributing to a different sound and feel. Words are in lines which may or may not be in sentences, and the lines are arranged in stanzas. Here’s an example of a two line poem
by Ezra Pound 1884 titled, In a Station of the Metro, The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet black bow. Ezra Pound’s poem was based on emotion he felt on a metro. Emotion is what I encourage you to write in your story, upwards or around 1250 words. This count is a guidance and nobody is testing you, remember. Words breathe, have a heartbeat can make you laugh and cry sometimes in the same minute. Take that feeling, you experience or have experienced and think about how you can make your audience visualise it, even if that audience is you. I like to write poetry at times and prose other times and tend to go with whatever seems more natural when I pick up a pen. Yes, I do still pick up a pen to write, then transcribe it onto my laptop. Writing that way gives me a sense of intimacy with my story, a little like a diary or a journal. For a time, those words are just mine.

Prose is generally more straightforward than poetry without much decoration, but powerful, providing visual context in their delivery. An example of prose from my book, In Search of the Christmas spirit is,
Aubrey laughed so hard that his food catapulted from his mouth across the table into Aoife’s face.
Prose is really a normal sentence. I like to think of poetry more like a song, musical in its delivery and my ears, but prose is typically straight to the point. I’m here to help you express and find joy and happiness
through writing. It’s my favourite way to express. I’ve been penning my stories or thoughts in some form or another since childhood. Whether journaling, whether through poetry or prose, even in the fiction I write, I found it the only way to speak out when I had no voice, whether expressing pain or joy.

You can plan the whole story of the joy you experienced, if you wish. Take notes on what you wish to include. That’s also okay. I personally write straight from my thoughts. And when all is penned, or typed, I edit. I tend to find a story everywhere I look, in the fog outside in the footprints on the sand. My head tends to explore what could or might have been, what is to come. The fog may bring something sinister, the footprints could be lovers. But whatever I write there is research and digging around the subject. Whether that is for accuracy because I’m addressing a period in history. Or like this story, I want to understand more about the beautiful birds that are chickens. Write first. Whatever gets you to the
crux of what your message and learning was. Remove that which has no relevance when you’re editing. Don’t be surprised if you edit multiple times. It’s normal. Don’t underestimate that long explanation you write to get to the point because that amble is you sorting through the many threads to get to the one that says it all in a shorter sentence. I know this process well as a highly sensitive person whose head never stills. Enjoy the process. The process itself is joy, remember it. In life when you are stuck in the – What If? – and continue to create negative spin on that something that’s kept you inside your box; stopped you exploring that which you could try, if only, choose to proceed with evidence, not your tired narrative. Life always presents choices, easy and difficult ones. Difficult doesn’t always equate to insurmountable. Work with reality, not the fiction you have come to believe in. Who told you you couldn’t? Are you really living your story or somebody else’s?

I leave you with this.
Noah Wren
As dawn breaks, new possibilities await.What will you do? Where will you go? How will you grow? asked the moon. I don’t know, said Noah Wren. But I will take one step at a time and upon this spot in a future yet unexplored, where I dare to dream a dream in my waking hours, I will tell you the story of a life lived and the roads that I have travelled.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Right Time Write Now, I would like to say thank you to a wonderful audio specialist and entrepreneur Suze from Big Tent Media who has helped make this podcast possible. And a thank you also goes to Emily from Emily Crosby Media who is assisting with the transcripts. If you have enjoyed listening then do tell a friend and consider leaving a rating or review wherever you listen to podcasts. All material in this podcast is the copyright of Nicola McDonald 2022 and must not be distributed without permission.

Disclaimer: (© Nicola McDonald (2023),, “All Rights Reserved”)