Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Snail’s Pace

This little guy, this snail (possibly known as the Globose Button or Mesomphix globosus, although I’m not a snail expert so I can’t be certain) is my hero, an inspiration for writers everywhere.

I love the patient way this snail moves, accepting the pace of his life as he inches forward without regard for what other species might think of him.

I love how he carries his shell on his back with pride. It reminds me of the way a writer carries his stories in an invisible sack in his imagination.

In each case the snail and the writer carry their homes—the shell and the sack of stories—with them, except one home is visible and the other invisible.

Most of all, I love the way the snail is absorbed in the task at hand, unperturbed by obstacles, focused on what he needs to do in order to take that next step, and the next, to reach his destination.

Of course, a snail doesn’t have an editor breathing down his neck shouting about a missed deadline. A snail doesn't need to worry about a broken computer keyboard or power outage or an empty ink cartridge.

Nor does the snail, I suspect, feel the same frustration as a writer at having to retrace his steps to find a different route, even after having gone many miles in the wrong direction.

But I love the snail’s devotion to movement, his persistence, his willingness to stick his head out and take risks, his desire to see just a little further than he might have been able to see from inside the safety of his shell.

The snail is such a vulnerable creature. His slow pace makes him ideal food for birds of prey, I suspect. And yet he keeps sticking his neck out, taking risks, searching for something that he hasn’t yet found. 

One step at a time—the snail is, after all, a monopod—he heads in a direction guided by some inner voice, some mysterious inner compass.

If a snail can listen to that inner voice and follow its own mysterious inner compass, so can we, don't you think?

If you want to see the grace, curiosity, and patience of the snail, click on this link to watch a brief YouTube video:


Pat McDermott said...

Lovely analogy between the snail's shell and a writer imagination, Bruce. Food for thought indeed.

Susan L Lipson said...

I love this post and have shared it with my readers, too. I will never look at snails the same way again. And now they'll be like mnemonics for me to remember to take my time and write a I need to write.