|view from the window October 2013|
"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist." --Isaac Asimov
hummingbirds out our porch room window. This past week the fascination--especially for the kids, cousins aged five, three, and almost three who played practically nonstop through a four-day visit--came in the form of one of the strangest of insect creatures, the praying mantis. "Come, look!" we said. "See if you can find the praying mantis among the vines."
An up-close encounter with the praying mantis coupled with discovering the above quote (thank you, Isaac!) elicited a chuckle. Parallels popped to mind between the strange insect, the quote, and the writer's life. Bear with me :-)
1. "You must keep sending work out..." A perfect camouflage cover, our cardinal creeper vine has the same same green hue as the mantis. The stick-like figure fades from view in its tangled shoots and leaves--never to be seen unless one intentionally focuses on it. Sort of like that manuscript buried in the bottom of the file drawer.
2. "You must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer..." You do know, don't you, that the female praying mantis is known for sometimes eating the male after mating? Don't let that manuscript lay in the drawer for fear it will eat its own head off!
3. "You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one..." The praying mantis can turn its head 180 degrees. It also can scan its surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them (fact source: National Geographic). A writer would do well to emulate a praying mantis' observation skills, both in researching markets and in working on the next project--details, details, details.
4. "If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist..." The praying mantis, named for the bent position of its front legs, suggests a prayerful pose. Ah, a little talent and persistence as Isaac Asimov says and--my addition to the equation--maybe a little prayer? For me, it's one of the most important needs of a writer since, ultimately, success is a gift to be thankful for. So my goals for the upcoming week? Get that manuscript out of the drawer. Query with persistence. Attack the WIP. Attempt a poetry prompt or two to encourage the words to come. And pray.
Lessons from a praying mantis? You bet.
Any other parallels you see? Is there an insect you take inspiration from?