Cicadas have a long larval stage, seventeen years for some, thirteen for others. My novels also go inert for years. I have often felt guilty and frustrated about my “inability” to finish these manuscripts. I see myself as one of those mossy sloths hanging upside down on a branch and gazing at a world that zooms by, leaving the sloth dizzy and wistful. If only I could let go of the branch and get to the keyboard.
Yesterday at Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop (Denver), I sat in on an interview with novelist Peter Farris. He spoke about writing his novel Last Call for the Living, which went through 22 drafts and took years to grow from egg to hard-shell publication. Farris talked about his goal of three pages a day and sometimes sitting for his self-assigned three hours without making that modest goal. He recognizes the difficulty of writing. He grew up with a novelist father, John Farris. He also recognizes that for many of us, we cannot help ourselves. We write because we must. For however long it takes.
Thus I offer you comfort. I raise my tea cup to the slow-moving, timid perfectionists pupating in us all. As Dan Manzanares, Lighthouse Curator, repeatedly tells us, BICHOK–butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Write on my sloths. Sing loud you cicadas.