On Snail Time

An old housemate of mine told me this joke once.  He found it hysterical.  He laughed and laughed.  This was years ago, and the exact details are a bit fuzzy.  Now, it’s true, the funniest thing about the joke was my housemate telling it.  But, I still appreciated the joke.

It went something like this:  dude’s hanging out watching TV when there’s a knock on the door.  He goes and opens it, and there’s no one there.  He grumbles and returns to the TV, only to hear another knock.  This time, he whips the door open and looks all around.  There’s no one there, but, he spots a snail on the door step.  He’s angry now, so he picks the snail up and throws it.  A week later, dude’s watching TV again and there’s a knock on the door.  He goes and opens the door–there’s no one there.  But this little voice says, “what was that for?”  Dude looks down to find a snail on the door step again.

I know, I know, eyes are rolling.  Snails can’t knock on doors.  Or talk.  But, hey, river guides always need family-friendly jokes to tell.  I mean, it ain’t all whitewater and action out there.  There’s miles of flatwater, an ever-present upstream wind, and people trapped on a boat expecting a show.  So yeah, lame jokes can serve a purpose.

Anyway, back to the point.  In all seriousness.  Seriously.  It took the snail an entire week to get back to the door!  That’s probably like, three decades in snail-time.  His shell was probably cracked too.  And that is exactly how I am feeling about writing my novel right now.

I ooze along at a snail’s pace, make it to the door and knock, only to be thrown for a loop.  As in, I find I need to write about something I don’t know, and so I have to spend another snail’s week researching so I can write about it.  Or, I fix a plot problem, only to find that the fix breaks another part of the plot, and there goes another snail’s week.  This has been a disheartening cycle.

But, I’m not writing this to whine about or make excuses for my lack of a publication-ready draft.  As I’ve made this snail-paced journey I’ve come to realize that my story is worth taking the time needed to get it right.  I’ve heard writers say that nobody writes a good first novel, and if you really love your story, you should save it.  Tell it after you’ve got a few published novels under your belt.  Get the bad writing out of the way, then write the story you love so you can do it justice.

That’s ridiculous.

I say, write the story you love every time.  And give it the time it takes to get it right, to make it good.  Learn the stuff you don’t know, even if it takes months of research.  The story is worth it.

I have to remind myself not to rush, and not to get discouraged.  I have to trust The Compass Code will be a better story for all my snail’s weeks lost to research and plot problems.  Because I really do love the story.

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Featured image courtesy of Pixabay

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