Q: If your writing style were a bird, what type of bird would it be and why?
A: Good grief, you realize you’re asking this question of a total bird nerd, right? I mean, some of my writing friends say that a story isn’t one of my mine unless it has a bird in it. I share my house with parakeets, I feed the outside birds, and I have been a lifelong birdwatcher. So birds means a lot to me.
Let me think carefully about this. I write slowly, so my writing style would not be a fast hummingbird or falcon. It also wouldn’t be something like a bluebird, which can have multiple broods per year. I also don’t think I have a terribly flashy style, so it wouldn’t be a peacock or bird of paradise. I also don’t write well in crowds or coffee shops or anything like that. I’m definitely a loner writer. So my writing style wouldn’t be anything that congregates in huge flocks—no flamingos or starlings or budgerigars. I also write best at home, in familiar settings, so no birds that fly long distances like terns or albatrosses.
After all of this, I think my writing style is a kakapo. What is a kakapo, you ask? A rare flightless parrot from New Zealand. They breed very slowly, with the parrots taking several years to reach maturity, and some years they don’t breed at all. They have muted green feathers and aren’t flashy, but have a fluffy cuteness that I find absolutely endearing. They are also loners and don’t congregate in flocks like many other parrots. Because they don’t fly, they stick close to home. All of these things resonate for my writing style. In addition, because they are so rare, they have a dedicated team of extraordinary scientists and volunteers who do tremendous conservation work to save the species. While I don’t need conservationists for my writing, I am lucky enough to have family and writing friends who support my work, and I am very grateful to them. [On a side note, if you are so moved to learn more about kakapos, visit the Kakapo Conservation page: https://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/kakapo-recovery/.]
Kathryn Yelinek’s story “The Woman Who Brought Love to Death”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 19 June 2020.
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