Writing Journal, #4, Metaphor

I was going through some old papers yesterday, and found a piece I wrote five years ago, for a grant application.  We were supposed to write on the theme “What Writing Means To Me.”  I didn’t get the grant, and it wasn’t the first time.  If you write, particularly in competition with others, you have to get used to rejection; it comes with the territory.  But I thought I’d share the first paragraph of that essay with you:

“It’s four in the morning, and once again I wake up in the clothes I wore yesterday, having fallen asleep on the couch, television left on, teeth unbrushed.  An infomercial for a fancy machine that can cut shapes and letters is my alarm clock, telling me that yesterday’s programming has ended but today’s has yet to begin. A half-drunk Sprite, an empty container of cream cheese, and my bra, eagerly removed after a day of campus meetings, are on the table next to me, the debris of my mini-orgy of mindlessness the night before.  At 6:30 my daughter will be awake, wanting to know where her library book is; at 7 my dogs will begin their ear-piercing demands; when I get back from their walk, my email will already be trilling.  But right now it’s still just four, my time-out-of-time, my stolen hours.  And I’m going to meet my lover.  We will have only a couple of hours, and, as with all love affairs, they may not go as I would like them to.  We may look at each other, wordlessly, wondering why on earth we are together.  We may struggle to re-connect after too long an absence. We may fumble and grope with built-up longing.  We may feel nothing.  Or, it may be a union so exquisite that I lose all sense of time and place.  However it goes, we cannot stay away from each other.  We are partners for life, and when we are separated for too long, I feel as though I am dying.”

Today, having had several extremely good writing days after a long period of frustration and anxiety, I’m struck by how apt the metaphor still is for me.  My lover and I, for a jumble of reasons, were not getting along well.  We weren’t fighting (that was me and my daughter,) and we certainly weren’t divorced from each other.  I wasn’t looking for a new love (although I did engage in many nights of meaningless sex with Bravo television.)  But we just couldn’t connect. I would reach out—literally wordlessly!!—but it was all awkwardness, as though we were strangers touching for the first time.  “Who are you?” I thought.  “And what have you done with the beloved companion that I thought I knew so well?”  Please, please, COME BACK.

Now that we are together again, it seems impossible that we ever fell apart.  But we did, and we will again.

Are there any others out there who think of their writing in terms of a particular metaphor?  Please do share!

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6 Comments

Filed under Susan's Writer's Journal

6 responses to “Writing Journal, #4, Metaphor

  1. I thought I would be a poet of renowned by now. I really did. I took the writing and reading thereof very seriously, so seriously I ran up an incredible amount of student loan debt that was supposed to pay it off with prizes and grants. Because I am OCD and wound like an atomic clock, it got paid off 8 years early with careers outside the writing world. My love of poetry took a strange turn during that time. I stopped writing and read little. It wasn’t a conscious decision until a few years ago when I realized writing is muscle as much as a skill, and no longer had the mental wherewithal to build it up again. So, to respond to your question quasi, my writing it my lover given up to live a better life than what we would have had together.

  2. Yes, as you know, I am writing my novel about Anne Boleyn; my metaphor is that I feel I am chasing her through one of those enormous mazes; I get glimpses of her and sometimes almost catch her; as she tuirns her head to look me straight in the eye, revealing in a glance, her deepest secrets. Then she is away again , laughing in palyful mischief as she turns her back on me and disappears behind the next turn in the maze. All I can see is a flash of colour, the hem of a skirt disppearing and she is gone, as enigmatic as ever.

  3. Lisa

    I am NOT a writer but sometimes write. For me it is more of a chick in an egg type of thing. Life often swirls around and within me, words, ideas, sights, sounds, tornados of feelings. But, sadly due to some inability of mine, I rarely know how to deal with it.
    Instead of allowing me to breathe, my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and experiences often ossify, constricting and restricting me until I am compelled to peck, peck, peck out of that shell. Writing is often compulsive, chaotic, and rarely pretty for me. But afterwards the sky is blue again, the air affirming. The broken shells and debris are dumped into the garbage pail. And I go on living the life of a (big) chicken. Anyway, you asked for a metaphor.

    But, with regard to 4am I am in total agreement with you. It truly is the gate to Prestor John’s realm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Lisa

    I am NOT a writer but sometimes write. For me it is more of a chick in an egg type of thing. Life often swirls around and within me: words, ideas, sights, sounds, tornados of feelings. But, sadly due to some inability of mine, I rarely know how to deal with it.
    Instead of allowing me to breathe, my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and experiences often ossify, constricting and restricting me until I am compelled to peck, peck, peck out of that shell. Writing is often compulsive, chaotic, and rarely pretty for me. But afterwards the sky is blue again, the air affirming. The broken shells and debris are dumped into the garbage pail. And I go on living the life of a (big) chicken. Anyway, you asked for a metaphor.

    But, with regard to 4am I am in total agreement with you. It truly is the gate to Prestor John’s realm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Susan

    An ex-lover, a vanishing hem, a chick trying to hatch…I love it!

  6. Clothes from the night before, asleep on the couch, television on, and a bra! I can so relate! Like trying to catch that phrase that only prances through the wee hours, when no one is looking, sneaking past my pea brain, tired from many sleepless nights of being afraid I’d “miss something” if I dared to fall asleep. And I missed it again… but there will be other nights, and days, too… when my heart will finally squeeze out what cannot be kept in… because I can’t “not” write.

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