Be the Tortoise


After several weeks of chaos there was a moment of clarity. In that moment of Zen I made a decision. I must be the Tortoise.

In my Camp NaNoWiMo Challenge, met the goals I set for myself. yay. That’s right a little yay. I’m happy I struggled through and got the job done. I pushed through pain and urgent matters. But I’m worn out from all the pressure.

On April 29th I signed off on the challenge. It felt so good. The way accomplishments should. Once the feeling of achieving the goal slowed to a simmer, a bone-aching tiredness set in.

I just couldn’t look at the computer anymore. I finished my evening chores, showered, and curled up with a Julia Quinn novel I’d started at the end of March. I started to feel guilty. While I met my goal of 15,000 words in 30 days. I have not finished Disrupted. I am somewhere in the middle of the climax. I pushed the guilt aside deciding I needed to read fiction instead of write it.

I went to sleep thinking, it feels as good finishing the novel as it felt finishing the word count. The next morning I woke thinking about the NaNoWriMo Challenges for my writing. I’m not sure these challenges work for me. I had realized earlier in the week they are like an old story my Mom would read to us. The Tortoise and the Hare from Aesop’s Fables.

During the last six weeks I lived the life of the Hare. I raced from finish line to finish line. I accomplished a lot. I’m proud and grateful (because it took a lot of support from others) for those accomplishments.

The Hare races ahead, gets distracted then, races ahead in a sprint. In my lessons learned, I am not looking at the big moral in the story (slow and steady wins the race). Hares win at life too! I know people who are hares. They thrive on the adrenaline and excitement. I admire you if you are a hare. The go-getter that gets the job done in record speed with few mistakes.

I discovered as much as I admire the go-getter hare. I am not. I do not thrive in the fast lane. I need to embrace slow dependable predictable Milly. I am the Tortoise. What works for me is one small step at a time. I can work fast when I need to but, my best work is done one word at a time.

I looked at the two books I’ve written. Bloodlines took me over a year to write the first draft. It needed a lot of reworking in the second draft. I had never written fiction before. Then the third draft was magic! I read it out loud to see how my characters sounded. They jumped off the page with each inflection and I started to figure out how to write expression into the plot.

My husband chuckles when I’m writing out loud and I say something like, “Elisa would never say something like that!” then I attack the keyboard with the rewrite. I’m proud and shy about my first book. It’s kind of like showing something I made that I actually like. I wonder if they will like it as much as I do. This book was written Tortoise style.

The first draft I am in the midst of finishing is done hare style. The majority of the book was written in NaNoWriMo challenges. I like the story idea and plot. I like the way the characters developed themselves. But I am dreading the second draft. After a challenge I just want to put the book down for a while. I’m tired. The adrenaline surge is over.

In my head the plot doesn’t flow. I remember it in pieces. I have trouble describing the order and the secondary characters. I don’t even have names for everyone yet! There are bunch of “Smiths” that need names (my code word for I need a name!). I even have cop partners that are Smith and Smith. Maybe I’ll keep that one…it does make me smile. I hope I will be able to piece Disrupted together when I pick up the pieces (literally). I will have to fit this puzzle back together. My second draft will really be the first draft.

Bottom line I have to get back in touch with my inner Tortoise. If you are a Tortoise; be the Tortoise! If you are the hare; be the Hare!

Find your fabled Zen. Then work it to your advantage.

Tortoise love,


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash



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