I know, some of you are thinking, this lady is crazy! How is writing like a dragonfly? Well, I’m going to tell you.
My family and I went up to Pittsburg, NH this Memorial Day weekend. The three older boys were fishing with my husband and I was on shore with my youngest, having paddled the canoe for a couple of hours, on break. We were standing at the lakeshore when we saw these strange looking bugs crawl right out of the water and head for land. Luckily, I knew that dragonflies began their life in the water as eggs and proceeded to live underwater as nymphs, until one day they crawl onto dry land and change into a dragonfly. I had never seen this transformation. I had never seen a dragonfly nymph crawl out of the water, but deep down inside I knew that I was about to witness a monumental moment of change.
I ran headlong for the car to get my camera.
Once the nymph made it onto shore it found a sunny spot. It took about fifteen minutes for the exoskeleton to dry out. Every once in a while it’s tail would flick. Then, all of a sudden two orange colored eyes would pop out–much larger than the eyes of the nymph.
Slowly, the dragonfly would struggle out of it’s exoskeleton. First his head appears, then his back. If you look really closely on his back, you can see some brighter colored green–almost looks as if he’s rolled in a bit of pollen–those are his wings! Or…they will be.
Finally, after another fifteen minutes,
he’s out! It took a lot of struggle to be free.
His wings slowly unfurl.
Watching his wings unfurl took the longest amount of time, but it was worth watching. I kept thinking to myself, how many people have seen a dragonfly break free from it’s “shell”? To be there when the moment happens? This is the point where I had the other thought– Dragonflies are like writing. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Above, his wings continue to unfurl until finally they unfold and he begins to vibrate them. This took a couple of hours, and even when he tried to fly a while later, he didn’t get very far. He was new to this flying thing and all, you know. I’m sure within another few hours, and a little practice, he was flying like a pro.
As writers our stories crawl out of the waters of imagination. They warm up in the sunshine in our minds until the exoskeleton is brittle enough to break through. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes our stories have to flick their tails. Sometimes our legs don’t want to pull free. But eventually our characters and their story break free and our writing wings unfurl. This is a monumental moment of change. A story may have been in its nymph stage for a month, or six months or six years, until one day you read something, or see something, or experience something that makes it crawl out of the water, bask in the sun and struggle free.
That’s how writing is like a dragonfly. = )