The Egg Chain


My mother would sooner have gargled with toilet water than sit me down and explain the Facts of Life.  But I had four older sisters, and the Trickle Down Theory of Knowledge worked for me.  By age fifteen I thought I knew everything I needed to know, more or less, about the birds and the bees.   I was wrong.   One day a question popped into my head, and wouldn’t go away.   I went to my Grandpa Gus, who was a farmer, and asked him the question that was burning a hole in my brain.

“Grandpa, how can chickens lay an egg a day?   There just isn’t that much room.  Where does she keep all those eggs, and wouldn’t it be very uncomfortable?”

“Here’s how it works, Slivers,” he said.  (My Grandpa always called me ‘Slivers;’ I was a skinny little thing in those days.)  He reached for a pencil and sketched what he called “The Egg Chain,” a string of eggs like so many beads, graduating in size from tiny to AA large.  Only one is a full-sized egg; the others are smaller, but growing.  They are all connected and nurtured by a single egg sack.  Each day when the hen lays a mature egg, its little brothers and sisters move up one spot on the chain.  The next in line has one more day in the batter’s circle before stepping up to the plate.

My book ideas grow in the same way.   They say “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,” but it works for me.  I have a mental vision of my own writer’s egg chain, with all my chicks in a row, a half a dozen books-in-progress.  The first on the egg chain is the story I am currently hatching, next comes the story I plan to tackle once that one is brought to market, and so on.

Ideas for future writing projects are added, upon conception, to the end of this writer’s egg chain.  They are not so well developed as the big one, but are nurtured daily, perhaps by a conversation, a chance meeting on the street, a news story, during quiet time in the garden, or through purposeful brainstorming.  Each one is a little nest egg, with its own file in my computer, in which I save all my pertaining notes on plot and character.

Every writer should have her own egg chain.  Why?  Because already having a work in progress is an excellent way to avoid Empty Nest Syndrome once you send off your manuscript.   If you have Writer’s Block, you can work on another project guilt-free, because you’re still working on The Chain Gang.  And you never have to worry about all your eggs being in one basket.   So let’s get cracking.


Do you throw all your eggs into one basket, or prefer to plan several projects ahead?  

Photo by Carlos Porto


  1. Beatrice Garrard says:

    That’s a great post and a gorgeous picture!

    I am definitely an egg-chainer as well. There’s even a document on my computer called “The Egg Chain,” consisting of the titles, concepts, historical periods, and characters for future books. I keep adding to it, too!

  2. AareneX says:

    I’ve got so many eggs in the chain, some times it’s challenging to, er, walk.

    1. What a hilarious image, Aarene.
      You crack me up!

  3. Dear Bea, The egg doesn’t drop very far from the hen! Write on! Love,

    1. Beatrice Garrard says:

      Wisely worded!

  4. Meg Lippert says:

    That’s a lovely image, Naomi. I love the fact that the eggs are protecting their own little lives, each one. Meg

    1. Thank you, Meg, and thanks for dropping by.

  5. Eli says:

    This is a very impressive puns-to-text ratio.

    1. Dear Eli, I trust you to tell me if I have egg on my face.

    2. Beatrice Garrard says:

      Isn’t it always?

  6. Hey! Nice post, sister! Like my eggs, it’s well done!

    1. Thanks, Con. I sure appreciate your stopping by. xoxo

  7. Kim Pearson says:

    My biggest problem with my egg chain is that they tend to all chirp at once. And some of them try to cut in line. How do you get yours to obey?

    1. Hi Kim! I believe it. I’ve seen just a few of the many and varied projects on your Egg Chain. When one of the eggs steps out of line, I work on that egg’s file and keep the notes for future reference. My main focus is always to hatch that AA large and keep the line moving. Once in awhile I let one take cuts. Real Troopers, the novel I’m finishing up right now, pushed its way to the front of the line. I had a very strong feeling that it was ready for the big push, and I went with it. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. Terri says:

    Very nice! My egg chain is short, but I am happy it exsists.

    1. Sometimes two over easy is all it takes! I happen to know you’ve got a couple of winners lined up. Thanks so much for checking in, Terri.

  9. mj monaghan says:

    That is the best analogy – the egg chain! And I WANT to be nicknamed “Slivers.” That is flat out AWESOME!! Except I’m not quite the Sliver I used to be. Great writing Naomi.

    1. Thanks so much. Nobody calls me Slivers anymore, and I will always love him for it! I’m enjoying your blog as well.

  10. sue says:

    I never considered the problem of the “Empty Nest” in this context before. I usually get far too tired of a piece of art by the time I’m finished to miss it after it’s done and gone. I sure do enjoy revisiting them many moons later, though, and am usually surprised and impressed. Interesting.

    1. Hi Sue,

      I always have the opposite problem–trouble letting go of a manuscript because I know all it needs is one more draft (and a few more tweaks after that…). Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. t2van says:

    Love the egg chain analogy! I grew up (second half of my childhood) on a chicken farm and actually never thought about it before! My writing eggs aren’t quite so neatly lined up but it makes me smile – thank you! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Terri. You have certainly hatched some lovely writing eggs. I will be following your blog and look forward to the next post!

  12. George Weaver says:

    Well, Naomi, you are a writer. A real one. I knew you could write when I read the NYC story and the one about travel somewhere, I forgot where. I see lots and lots of aspiring writers who won’t make it no matter how many egg chains they got. I simply smiled ear to ear when I read the grandpa story. I was Gravel Gertie from Dick Tracy because I was a sliver of a child with white hair. Where are your books? Gimme’ a list. This is some kinda’ good stuff. 🙂

  13. HI George, you are very kind. I think a lot of writers don’t recognize their own talent. You are a really good writer, so observant, with the words to express what you see and feel. Your piece about Romero was truly lovely. I always look forward to your post.

    Here is a link to a historical novel that I wrote with my sister. It is out of print, but it was a Doubleday Book-of-the-Month Club selection. I believe my agent is arranging to have it re-released as an e-book. It is called The Keeper of the Crystal Spring.

    I have an anthology of folk tales called Apples From Heaven: Multicultural folk Tales About Stories and Storytellers that won four national awards. You could order that and other storytelling resources on my website bookstore ( Amazon carries my storytelling stuff too.

    I just finished a contemporary women’s novel, but haven’t got a publisher for that yet.

    Thanks for your interest, and for taking the time to visit.


  14. Jamie Dedes says:

    I guess I throw my eggs in one basket – nice way to think about things – I love your Grandpa Gus, by the way – I always have a poem or two or three in process and fiction works as well. I write and then come back later when I can “see” what I missed when I was too close. Don’t know if that makes sense, but there it is.

    Either way, I suspect we all have a production line going …

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