Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Writer's Journey, From a Turtle's POV

"And the turtles, of course...all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be." --Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

I would have seen it this morning on my walk anyway, but twice I was alerted to the little turtle's presence before I got that far. First, by my neighbor Pat, who was coming the other way. "There's a turtle in the road back there," she said. "I'm afraid it's going to get hit by a car." Then another neighbor drove by, slowed down, and told me the same thing. So I was ready. And there it was, moseying across the pavement, head held high, taking the journey one slow step at a time. It was certainly in a precarious situation.

"Come on, buddy," I said, "let's help get you across." And I moved the creature into the grass at the side of the road, marveling all the while at the striking pattern imprinted across the hard shell.

Then, as we writers are apt to do, I considered the turtle's journey--and compared it to the writer's life. You probably already know what's coming, another of those corny analogies. But here goes...

The Writer's Journey From a Turtle's POV
1. You gotta' stick your neck out if you're going to get anywhere.
2. Start. And keep going, one step at a time, no matter how slow the pace.
3. Don't stop in the middle of the road. If you do, you'll never get where you want to go.
4. Stay focused, patient and persistent. A little bit of luck wouldn't hurt either.
5. Let friends pick you up when you find yourself in a tough spot.
6. Remember your pattern is unique, and you add your own little bit of beauty to the world.
7. Catch your breath and rest, if need be, when you get to the other side--especially if you get shook up (think "querying process"!). Then move on to new adventures, the next story to write.

Do you feel like a turtle sometimes? What advice would you give to a writer who's plodding along?

*photo courtesy of


  1. Friends are so important! I loved this analogy--I've had some interesting run-ins with turtles lately too, and different analogies keep bouncing around in my head. I love your picture too!


  2. Sometimes it's really hard sticking your head out, but always worth the trip!

  3. Love the analogy! Turtles in nature always take my breath away. Such beautiful creatures.

  4. This is a great analogy! Slow and steady, that's what I think of with turtles, but never thought of it for writing. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  5. Love the analogy. I feel like a turtle now. My writing is going too slow. And I am really trying to stick my neck out.

  6. What a cool post! We rescued a turtle much like this when driving through Arkansas a few years ago. He wasn't too grateful--tried to snap at me when I picked him up, but the poor thing had gotten knocked around by a few cars already.


  7. Ha, sometimes I feel like a turtle. But I know that there's being progress made. I just try to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the finish line.

  8. This is indeed a beautiful analogy. I can certainly relate to the part about feeling "slow." (In fact, I might sometimes say "stuck.") I'm very fond of that old fable in which the turtle actually wins the race because of his slow, steady pace. So maybe there's a finish line ahead for all of us turtles!

  9. Ah, Yertle the Turtle, that takes me back!

    Great post! I once stopped my car to let a chicken cross the road. And you know, I didn't even think to ask it why!

  10. Heh, perfect - stick your neck out, and keep persevering one step at a time - very true!