This homely little fellow is a mayfly nymph. He hatched from an egg on the bottom of a stream. He lives at the very bottom of the river, down in the muck. He hides from the light and keeps between, and sometimes under the rocks.
He’ll live there for a whole year. He grows, and has to shed his skin multiple times. The withered husk simply drifts away on the stream. It kind of looks like him, but it has no soul. No personality. It’s almost like the nymph has to discard some things as he grows and evolves.
A novel starts out as a manuscript. Think of it like a novel nymph. It hatches from an outline, or even just a loose idea in a writer’s mind. It hangs out in the dark too. It’s habitat could be a spare bedroom, garage or even a closet/office. It too has to go through an evolution. Chapters go off to critique groups and come home as withered husks that only resemble the manuscript in a superficial way. Characters get combined, or even change genders. They get new names and evolve. Still, it stays in the dark growing in word count over a period of about a year.
After about a year, our mayfly nymph is as big as he needs to be. He’s been through many revisions and must shed his skin one last time. He comes into the light and swims to the top of the stream, wriggling out of his final skin.
A manuscript also steps into the light. It goes off to beta readers, who read the entire manuscript from the very beginning. These wonderful people suggest things that can make the story stronger and more coherent.
The nymph has to dry out a bit. He isn’t exactly a nymph anymore, but something in between stages. He has wings now, but they’re wet and wrinkled. He needs a bit of time in the sun.
The manuscript goes off to an editor. It needs a bit of polish too. Not much, just a bit here and there to let it put it’s best image forward.
Our nymph is gone forever. He is a fully fledged mayfly now, and a very handsome fellow to boot. His lines are estheticly pleasing, and he has a brilliant color. Anyone would be lucky to spot him and revel in his magnificence.
The manuscript is gone forever too. It is now a fully functional novel. It has a brilliant cover indicating the promise within. An enticing blurb greets all those lucky enough to spot it.
The mayfly scans the skies as the sun warms him up from his aquatic beginnings. He has one task left to compete. He must find a mate.
The novel goes through a waiting process too. The author has to upload everything to Amazon, or some other book vendor. There is some formatting to check, and it too is ready to take flight. It’s final job is to find a reader.
The mayfly spreads it’s wings and launches itself into the air.
The author pushes the publish button and cracks open a well earned beverage. Both the novel and the mayfly take flight, only to discover…
There are other mayflies and novels competing for attention. Enough to to blot out the sun, both figuratively and literally.