Write Away excerpt: The Tortoise or the Hare
Christmas is approaching, and I’m pretty sure one of my favorite gifts will be a new (nonliving) turtle. A while back, my younger son decided that I should collect them, and he should be the one to give them to me. The third I received from him is a stone pendant he found at one of our favorite local nature shops. The other day when I put it on, I realized that turtles and writers share some important traits:
We’re patient with a less-than-speedy pace. Writing can be slow. Revising can be slow. Editing can be slow. When the polishing is finally done, the submission process can be the slowest part of all. Thanks to email, some industry folks are quite quick these days—I once received a “no thank you” to an electronic query in the time it took for me to grab a “congratulations-I-sent-it” cookie (which then became a consolation cookie). But many others still take weeks, if not months, to reply, which can test the most steadfast resolve.
We’re persistent. I’ve read that the jaws of snapping turtles sometimes don’t unlock even after death. Although this does evoke the unsettling image of me sitting at my desk in full rigor mortis with a copy of the Writer’s Market clamped in my hands, writers are well-served by that kind of persistence. Grab onto your dream, and don’t let go for anything.
We have thick shells. Even the personal, encouraging rejections sting a little. And the others . . . well, if you’ve been there, you know what I mean. A hard carapace is very useful for ego protection.
Turtles have been on this planet for 230 million years—ages longer than Euripides, Shakespeare, and Ray Bradbury combined. As one might expect from such ancient residents, turtles and tortoises figure prominently in myth and folklore from all over the world. They are generally seen as creatures of endurance, strength, longevity, fertility, wisdom, and perseverance. These are all qualities I gladly embrace as a writer.
I do have days when I wish my career would leap, hare-like, from the starting line. But for now, I’ll just keep moving steadily forward. And if I take some chances by sticking my neck out from time to time, I may find I was closer to my goal than I thought.