Once each fall, the Established Writer deposits an egg on the bark of a poplar tree before flying off to drink himself to death or severe mental impairment. Through the winter, this flea-sized egg undergoes a miraculous transformation, albeit one unseen by most. Beneath the thin skin of its casing, the Emerging Writer larvae tends to an enormous, precious ego that threatens each day to push it free of the protective layer keeping it—barely, inexplicably—alive.

An additional mystery of the natural world: how the Emerging Writer larvae find energy to harbor such an ego. Not only are the larvae objectively quite weak and prone to spells of “just going to law school”—they seems also determined in their effort to grow larger than all other larvae at, it seems, any cost. Emerging Writer larvae have been seen, in the latter stages of their development, literally eating the stems off other leaves, thus effectively cutting off access to food and that MFA blog everyone’s talking about.

Once hatched, the Emerging Writer larvae tend to gather at the base of their trees, eating the bark to rot and casting judgment on each other’s ability to arrange words on pages. Those with bruised egos quickly find themselves cast out of their colonies and are left to fend, brutally, for themselves. Rarely does such a specimen survive such exile. In six to twelve weeks, the larvae retire to different branches, having established a hierarchy based primarily on single-paragraph excerpts of each other’s work and the general assumption that prettier larvae will go further, career-wise.

The Emerging Writer larvae work with haste to wrap cocoons of silk and fine prose. It is then that the true metamorphosis occurs: the sudden and enormous growth of the larvae. They begin at this time to read. They begin to write and recognize their writing as not sufficiently compelling. They get, like, really frustrated. They learn to revise. They grow wings and antennae and develop a taste for nectar and the semicolon. Some learn to be nice.

In spring, many—in fact, most—fail to hatch, their egos insisting on containing them within the warm cocoon they spun weeks prior. But some opt—in a process not yet fully understood—to pierce the thin layer of their cocoon and venture out onto the cold leaves of early March. Nine of ten Emerging Writers will in this way freeze to death or be eaten by robins, who couldn’t give a shit about the surrounding literary landscape. But every year, despite the odds never quite being in their favor, many Emerging Writers’ wings dry and take first flight into the Winds of Publishing and the Fields of Befriending Key Editors and return, one day, to offer up a small, round, faintly-visible egg on their home tree.