The rule—who am I to make rules when I always itch to break them?—is that if I am not able to focus on my own writing, be it the novel reinvention, be it the story, be it the other story, be it the YA proposal I should have done last month, be it anything I could call my own, then I am punished. The repercussions are dire. If I cannot do my own writing I must do the fake writing, the project due in two weeks. Yes, that: the one I dread. Or I must do sit-ups. Or eat mushrooms (gag). Or, I don’t know, what’s truly awful?, ride the big bus.

When I was a child, my mother was creative with punishments. They were personalized for each kid. Truth is, she didn’t believe in punishing her children—certainly never spanking—but there were times when we were difficult, when my mother had had enough of us, and she had to do something to make a point. My sister’s punishment was the naughty corner. My brother was made to run around the house. I had the egg. My mother would get near hysterical at the mention of my punishment, telling me (trying desperately to keep a straight face): If you don’t do the dishes, you’ll get the (giggle) EGG.

Oh but it was serious.

I was made to hold a raw egg. In its shell. In my hand. Often, two at a time.

Does this not sound like a real punishment?

How is a person to read a book while holding two eggs? How is a person to talk on the telephone? To do anything really? What if the egg broke? How… gross! Ten minutes with the egg was time lost. It was agony. Sort of.

From this I’m sure you can guess that I had a great relationship with my mother and rarely, if ever, (ever?), did anything to get into trouble. I was never grounded. We didn’t fight. We just needed for it to be fair to the other children, you see—their naughty corners, their house laps—it was only fair that I, too, had repercussions when “bad.” So it was that I would theatrically wail when the egg was brought out. Not the egg, Mom, not the egg! And she would say, If you keep that up you’ll have to hold the egg in your mouth. And together we would burst out laughing. And if she chased me around the house with an egg, all the better. Maybe the punishment was violent hysterics, chest heaving, tears down the face, inescapable, unending hiccups. The others might be sent to their rooms. And they would say, What about Nova? Isn’t she in trouble too? Of course, my mother would say with a straight face. She gets the egg.

This is how it feels when I tell my writer-self to do something. Such empty threats. Will you make me hold an egg? Oh dear god, I must finish that novel now.

Yep. I just don’t think that’s going to work.

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