When you realize that you have to be the Tortoise

Photo: (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Kaybee07 (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: David Stanley (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: David Stanley (Creative Commons Flickr)

“Slow and steady wins the race,” right? I was in grade school when I learned the lesson of Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare. I liked this story. I knew that the tortoise was better than the foolish hare, and I was even happy that he was the winner.

But I lived my life as if I were the hare. Because the hare was strong and fast, he could run when he felt like it. His do-it-at-the-last-minute skills (the bane of smart people) worked for him. Best of all, along the race route the hare was able to kick back and relax. What’s not to like?

Being the tortoise is just plain hard. The poor fellow plodded along, one foot in front of the other, hour after hour. It takes guts and determination to remain on-task.

Oh, I still run portions of my life along “when-I-feel-like-it” lines, but it’s not working well. (Case in point: house chores.) My ability to juggle multiple tasks and keep a running to-do list in my mind isn’t what it used to be. My fly-by-night last minute skills no longer cut it. I’m learning to plod along.

Photo: Tomi Tapio K (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Tomi Tapio K (Creative Commons Flickr)

Writing is probably the most tortoise-like task I face because producing a novel requires staying at it. Or in my case, stopping and then starting again, day after day. Darcy By Any Other Name, in draft form, currently weighs in at 113,000 words. A testimony to the every day courage of the tortoise!

“A day may come when the courage of men fails…but it is not THIS day.”
– Aragorn  (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Ah, but the hare has his moments. He rushes in and does the polishing work, putting the right emotional spin on each chapter. With his “feel-right” approach, he’s my go-to for dialog and sparkling banter. Best of all, he’s the one who will drop everything and meet a friend for coffee.

I can’t always be the tortoise, right? I’d be vacuuming and dusting instead of reading a book, and how dreary is that?


6 thoughts on “When you realize that you have to be the Tortoise

  1. Gayle Mills

    I love this! I used to think I could accomplish anything if I had 24 hours. At 50, I needed 48. Now at 65, it’s looking more like a week — or a summer. That hare within me wants to race, but the tortoise that contains her just isn’t capable of that anymore. The youthful hare can no longer burn the candle at both ends. The tortoise always knew that and was patient, waiting for the day he would be at the controls. That day is here, Laura. And it’s not so bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Laura Hile Post author

    How right you are, Gayle. I love the excitement of finishing at the last minute, but—it’s painful and almost impossible. The reason you’ll even get a copy of my next book is because the tortoise is at the controls. The reason you’ll like it is because the hare is a lot more fun, ha.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Robin Helm

    Gayle and Layne always worked and accomplished great things at the last minute. My nerves wouldn’t take that. I had every project and paper done early – I mean WAY early – and I turned them in if the teacher would take them. I’m the same way now. I don’t work well under extreme pressure. I start practicing songs with my school kids for Veteran’s Day in September.

    When Gayle and I were at the same school and had a joint project like Fine Arts Festival, I would do mine ahead and lend her a hand if she was behind. She was always overloaded with too much work.

    If wait until the last minute, I don’t do it the way I want it done. (That would be prelude music for Sunday morning. I’m never happy with it.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Music is something I can’t pull off at the last minute. For me there is no such thing as “over rehearsing.”

      And you bring up another another problem with being the hare: poor time perception. I would say yes to too many projects or think I could accomplish 10 things in 15 minutes, you know, right before rushing out the door for school

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Susan Kaye

      I’m with you on that, Robin. In the past I was in the Last Minute And Then Some camp. I think I have stomach problems owing to that now. Anyway, I have been under a couple of deadlines the past two weeks and I HATEHATEHATE them. Better to get at it and be done with it.

      I laugh at the notion of last minute inspiration.



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