All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Writer's Spirit Animal - the Cicada

Up here in my little spot of the Midwest, it is cicada season. Every seventeen years (or thirteen for different breeds), about a bajillion bugs creep out from their little homes underneath old trees and undergrowth, molt off their old skins, feed for a little bit, then screech continuously for the few weeks that is their mating season. For those of you who have not heard this screeching noise, it's fairly tame as far as bug noises go. However, when 1,000,000 of them decide to harmonize in a nearby forest, or a few thousand camp out and have a singalong in the neighbor's backyard, it is memorable. When we first moved out here when I was very young, I experienced my first cicada uprising. It was like the entire forest preserve was shaking with an invisible force of life. It was fascinating and just a little scary.

Now, many decades later, I have grown used to the shrieking little fellows, and I have even related to them to a degree. I don't necessarily follow their habits - I have long since given up sitting on my porch, shrieking aloud to attract females - but I have found a certain connection with them. Whether it's their red eyes or their very dry skin, something between the cicadas and me felt similar. It took a while to finally make the connection, but indeed I figured it out. That one common thread we must have was staring me in the face: Cicadas are obviously writers.

Now, at this point science can neither confirm nor refute the writing habits of the seventeen-year cicada, given the time-intensive nature of such studies. However, my less-than-scientific methods see the commonality between the two. You see, much like a cicada, a dedicated writer will spend most of their time in deep, silent thought. A hibernation of the body while the mind silently races about, putting together their latest masterpiece. If not for the human demands of regular calories and nutrition, a real writer would likely sit dormant for long spans of time, dust settling on them, moss growing high on their northern side as they contemplated their story.

And then, in a shriek of activity, the writer bursts forth with a flurry of activity. They become alive with activity - frantically writing, editing, workshopping pieces, getting feedback from everyone, all with that constant sound of them talking about their latest work. During this active streak, the writer rarely does anything but drink coffee, type, and occasionally let out a screech of triumph when a particular phrase or scene really works. Every writer knows this sound, and when they hear another writer make that noise, they nod their head in proud agreement.

And then, without anyone noticing it, the writer will finally fall silent again. The writing binge will be over, a new set of thoughts filling their mind as their body goes into that dormant state. Their coffee grows cold in the mug, the sheets of written copy sit there unedited, and it's back into hibernation as their mind churns about, going entering the next cycle of creation.

Maybe this is stretching it. Maybe I am a little more active than a cicada, and my writing cycles are a little faster than seventeen years. But as I hear them outside, screeching up a storm, I know they are in a very active state of mind, doing what nature demands of them. I nod my head in agreement, then get back to writing.       

1 comment:

  1. As usual your words make noise in my head; this time because they resonant with familiarity as to what happens in my brain when I'm trying to fall asleep. A few cicada choral groups are relaxing, too many are too much.