The Tortoise or the Hare?






I know it doesn’t seem right to mention a tortoise and a hare in the title and then  lead with a picture of a snail, but that’s just the way it worked out.

When I was walking into my office today, I spotted this snail (that’s what we call creatures like this in East Texas).  What you can’t see in the picture I took on my phone is the small army of ants that were attacking the poor fellow as he trudged along, at a snail’s pace.

Something about that scenario reminded me of the writer’s life.

Writing is a slow-cooking deal. You can’t rush it. Or as the commercial used to say, we’ll have no wine before its time. The time comes from conceptualizing the story, writing it, editing it, re-writing it, honing it, proofing it, worrying about it in the middle of the night.

I understood that from the git-go.

What I didn’t understand was how slow and tedious the process would be after I finished a book.  First the baby is born, then you have to feed and take care of it.

For many of us who have come to the writing business recently the terrain looks like the sidewalk must appear to that snail. It stretches beyond the horizon, and we have only one speed, slow.  At least you can see the trail of slime.  That’s a cozy metaphor for the blood, sweat and tears we leave in our wake as we plod along.

And the ants.  I almost forgot them.  I’m not sure what they symbolize in the story.  People who kick you when you’re down? People who hope you die of heat stroke before you reach the shade? Readers whose passionate loathing of your work drives them to post a bad review every time they see a piece with your name on it?  Writers who view their fellow writers as competition?

Or maybe the ants were just telling the snail he needed to lose some weight.

I wonder if that snail dreams of becoming a writer?

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