Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why (Good) Writers Are Like Moths

They stupidly fling themselves into light fixtures (bonk bonk bonk) and eat holes in your clothes!

Hmm. Maybe that's just me after too many martini's.

I've been watching "Lost" on Netflix. Never watched it before (yes, I'm a little behind the times, I realize).

Episode seven is appropriately titled "The Moth". One of the characters, Charlie - heroine addict and former rock band member (who was also a hobbit) - is running low on his stash. Being trapped on an island apparently makes it difficult to get in touch with ones dealer. Another character, Locke - very wise sage like person - takes Charlie's drugs from him, and when Charlie asks for them back he shows him a moth cocoon.

The cocoon is made of a very durable material, thereby making the moth struggle to break free once it has metamorphasized (is that a word?). But the struggle serves a purpose. Without the struggle, the moths survival would be limited. It would not be strong enough to live in the real world. The effort to break free is what makes it strong and able to survive.

So are you, little writer, struggling to put words on a page. Struggling to make it through fifty to one hundred thousand plus words in a rough draft. Struggling to revise and turn it into something saleable. Struggling to write a query that doesn't completely suck. Struggling to find a perfect match (i.e. agent). And then publisher. And then doing it all over again if it doesn't work the first time. Or the second. Or the third.

And yeah, it kinda sucks sometimes. And other times it's a rush (like you're the junkie or something). And it can be hard.

But, my friends, it's worth it.

The struggle will turn you into a strong moth and you will survive in the reality of the publishing world and thrive in a way that would have been impossible had the journey been easy.

So keep up the struggle, my friends, because it's a jungle out there and only the strong survive.


  1. Wise words, my friend. I love moths. They're so misunderstood. People adore butterflies, but do they adore moths just as much? Why am I babbling? Gah, I'm just tired cause it's late. Still, I love this. The metaphor is appropriate.

    I have never watched Lost, btw. So you're one step ahead of me. There are so many shows I want to watch, just not enough time.

    Hope you're having a great weekend. ;)

  2. Also, moths are so quiet even bats have difficulties hearing them - maybe we writer-moths need to change that a little?

  3. Digging the analogy and I hope you enjoy watching Lost. The early seasons are great for storytelling and structure.
    - Sophia.

  4. Thanks, Cherie! And yeah, there are some really pretty moths out there, too. I have netflix so it's nice to be able to watch TV whenever I want! Seriously, I don't even know why I have cable anymore, it's getting to be irrelevant.

    Hey Cat! Thanks for stopping by! I didn't know that moths were that quiet...I may have to go on a moth fact finding mission now :)

    Sophia-I agree, I love what they did with the characters. Everyone has a secret and a story. It's brilliant! I can't watch anything anymore without analyzing the plot/characters and wondering what the writers were thinking. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing!

  5. Oh, you're watching LOST! The writer as a moth is a wonderful image, Mary. I'm hoping that I am more of a tough-assed butterfly, though. Moths are kinda hairy. :)

    Here's a purple moth for you, though.


    Great metaphor, although lately I've been feeling like I'm one of those unfortunate moths who gets gobbled up mid-flight by some angry bird.

  7. Love this post, Mary; thank you for such a great metaphor. (And I was a huge Lost fan, especially the first few seasons!) Also, I am giving out awards on my blog today, and I gave you one... I'd love it if you stopped by to grab it! :)

  8. Beautiful metaphor! YES, I LOVE moths and very much want to be one! In fact, I have a really cool moth in my book SPLINTERED, who happened to miss out on some really important stuff while he was stuck in that cocoon.

    All that to say, a writer's life is solitary sometimes, but it can never be sedentary. We've gotta keep working at it so we can partake in the successes of life, and FLY. ;) Nice post, girl.

  9. I love this.

    So much so, I am going to find an awesome moth photo, print it, and hang it over my desk. He'll be my writing mascot/muse.

  10. Mary: Purple Moth!! I love it!! I will treasure it forever. Or just print it out. Maybe eat it and regurgitate it so I can eat it again. (hehe).

    Bethany: no angry birds! Something a little more meaty, maybe a pterodactyl (THEY LIVE, I SWEAR!)

    Thanks LisaAnn!! I will head on over and check it out :)

    Anita, I love you and moths. And your book (which I've never read, but really want to). And you should rename the moth Mary.

    Wosushi: I followed you to your blog, and I liked it so much I am now stalking you on twitter. Thanks for stopping by!!

  11. "You all, everybody!" I loved LOST. It maybe didn't end perfectly, but it was brill.
    I love your analogy, too.