If you’ve spent ten seconds on any social media feed, then you’ve seen the links to the endless chain of quizzes and personality inventories. You know the ones I’m talking about; What Disney Villain Are You? What Rock Are You Most Like? What Civil War Battle Best Resembled Your Last Family Outing?
One that catches my eye, is the quiz that identifies your spirit animal. The idea of a spirit animal dates back to some of the earliest recorded history.
In no way do I mean to insult those who include animal spirits in their religious beliefs. I think these folks might have something going on, because there is something really powerful in connecting with nature. Animals have a way of getting past the human force field of B.S. and don’t judge us for all of our faults. They take us for what we are – imperfect creatures in an imperfect world.
There are people who use a spirit guide, in the form of an animal, to unclutter the mind and direct their day to day decisions. That’s what I want while I write, but my writing spirit animal is an elusive little creature.
According to spirit animal guides, you cannot choose your spirit animal, the animal chooses you. So, why is it I feel like the geeky kid in gym class? I’ve had my hand up and no animal has chosen me.
Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe I don’t have a writing sprit animal. Maybe Toronto Major Rob Ford is destined to be my spirit guide. Oh, Sweet Jesus, no!
Relax and hover over the keyboard. Meditate. Mediate with alcohol (in spite of warnings from Mayor Ford). An image forms in the shadows and mist between the keys. The words appear on the screen in an aggravating slow crawl, molasses in winter slow. My writing spirit animal is a sloth.
Why does it have to be a sloth? Why can’t I have a cool, majestic wild beast, like a jaguar, a lion, or cheetah? Why? I’ll tell you why. ‘Cause that ain’t me. After the initial shock of sloth-labeling, it occurred to me that I’m not a lightning fast writer, clipping out thousands of words a day, leaving a blood trail of story parts in my wake. I’m not a jump-on-it-and-run word predator either.
I’m deliberate, reluctant to move past a rough section of words until I like the sound of them. Not editing as I go, but not throwing words to the wall and hope they stick. I’ll climb from limb to limb to my little story tree and chew on the leaves until I find what I’m looking for; slow and deliberate. Sloth-like, you might say.
There are days when my sloth spirit animal shape shifts into a hawk, diving and swooping down on the keyboard, pecking the keys in a frenzy. A little mouse of a plot twist gobbled up and splattered on the page. That pace is short-lived and the mist forms around the hawk and my spirit animal morphs back into the slow, but sure paced sloth.
Maybe Napoleon Dynamite was right about his hybrid creatures.
I can live with a Sloth-Hawk spirit animal. Fast and frenzied when necessary, coupled with a slower, deliberate determination.
What’s your writing spirit animal?