The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow

Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin is the author of The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow, short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog at:

Egg by Egg

If you have ever read my bio on my books or my Website, you would have undoubtedly read a certain line that might have made you scratch your head. Along with all the usual info about where I went to school, how many children I have, it also says that I have a parakeet who thinks she’s a chicken. Perhaps you scoffed at this, what with me being a writer and prone to gross hyperbole, but, my friends, this is true.

That’s her in the picture with one of the many eggs she has laid. It all started about a year and a half ago when I looked inside her cage and noticed she was acting a little strange, squawking like she was trying to tell me something. I thought she was sick, but upon a closer look, I noticed the first egg. Of course, there is nothing viable in the egg, what with no daddy bird around, at least that I know of, unless there is some Don Juan bird sneaking in at night. But the likelihood of that is silly. So my bird is producing these eggs all by herself.

I went to the pet store later that day and talked to the bird lady. She explained that this is really quite normal, that it is just for a season and she’ll stop after a couple of months. She then loaded me down with extra treats and vitamins, explaining that this time in a bird’s life is hard on her little body. I cleaned out her cage extra well, hung the vitamin bar in her cage, gave her a pep talk, and thought that would be that.

Not my bird. She started laying one egg after the other, sometimes one a week, sometimes three.

It really is pretty pathetic. She is so proud of herself. She lays her egg and as soon as I walk into the room she jumps up on her perch and tells me all about it. Then she jumps down onto the floor of her cage and sits on the egg like any good, proud mama bird. She cuddles her egg and gently tucks it under her wing until I reach my big old fat hand in there, snatch it out, and toss it into the garbage. Yikes. But, I have no choice. It’s just not a ready for prime-time egg. It used to make me sad, but after the fifteenth time, it became routine to toss the eggs.

And she hasn’t stopped laying.

What the pet store lady said would be a few weeks has turned into several months. Leave it to me to have an overachieving bird. Imagine that, she’s laid all of these eggs and none of them has produced a chick for her to care for.

Well, being a writer and all, I decided to draw the obvious writer analogy between writing and nonviable egg laying. It happens.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve laid approximately seven million nonviable eggs over the past few years. Word by word, egg by egg I’ve persisted pretty much every day, writing words that I loved and tucked under my wing and cared for until some giant fickle finger of fate came along and flicked it away. My eggs, like Bird’s, did not have anything inside that was ready for prime time. Oh, the shell was there, they looked nice, even sounded nice, but the guts, the truth, the heart of the matter was missing. But I didn’t stop producing. I had too. Just like Bird. She can’t help it right now. They’re inside of her, she has to get them out. Okay, that’s gross but you get the concept.

Nonviable egg laying is a lot like writing. You put your words out there, they get rejected, but you keep laying more because one day, one wonderful day, an editor is going to come along and see your potential. Then she’ll take you and your egg under her wing and care for you and it, nurturing, loving, and working really, really hard to produce a beautiful new bird that will soar to the top of best-seller lists, maybe.

And, oh, just like the bird lady gave me extra vitamins and treats for Bird, treat yourself from time to time, take your vitamins and keep laying your eggs.


The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow has been selected as one of the top five Christian Inspirational titles of 2009 by Library Journal.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow