Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon

The Exercise of Writing: Metaphor Olympics

 For some of you, this week’s blog barrage about the physicality of writing has resonated fully. You’ve nodded knowingly, you who write from your chin, navel and left knee.


But the rest of you think we’re cracked.

“We’re writers,” you cry. “Leave our triceps out of this!”


Friends, I assure you, we’re onto something here. Sara and I are not in the business of creating pure, unadulterated fiction. (Oh, wait. Yes, we are. But, y’know what I mean…)


In a last ditch effort to score with the skeptics, here are my sports metaphors for writing. (And if these don’t win you over, go check out Sara’s.)



Writing as Skiing


Here’s what I think about gravity. They didn’t invent it for nothing. The whole point of working your way up to the top of a steep hill is to have a kickin’ ride down. Am I right here, folks? When you’re picking up speed, do not sink into a snowplow. Sometimes you’ve just got to let ‘er rip! What are you afraid of? An icy patch? A bumpy spot? That snooty looking group in their matching Helly Hanson outerwear? Come on, mogul runners. Pull those goggles tight, point your tips downhill, tuck your poles under your arms and go. There’s always the ski patrol, um, I mean, your editor, standing by if you really careen out of control.



Writing as Basketball Practice


You’re sitting at your desk, kind of working on your middle-grade novel, kind of imagining that you’re winning The Newbery Award. And it’s not unlike shooting hoops off the garage as a kid. The announcer’s voice, eerily similar to your own, says, “This is it folks, the final shot in the final second of the game for the championship title, and she shoots and she…. okay, well, it looks like there’s actually one more second on the clock and this shot is the one…” Right? But you just keep going for it because – all evidence to the contrary – there’s always the chance that you’re going to toss the perfect swish without even hitting the rim.



Writing Revising as Bowling


Perfect! Look at all your words there, lined up like neat little pins. Oh. Only they’re not perfect. There are too many adjectives, not enough vivid verbs and the main character’s motivation is questionable. You need to pick your pen back up (it feels heavy enough to snap your wrist), take aim and go back into the manuscript. Again and again and again. Knocking down what wasn’t working, making room for what will. And on the odd occasion that you really nail it, the other bowlers cheer and you look up at your name in lights. Satisfied.


Writing as Yoga


Practice: verb

To do something repeatedly in order to improve performance; to do something as an established custom or habit.

Meet the mat like you meet a blank page – as part of a never-ending practice. You work toward balance; strength; epiphany. The abolishment of fear and ego. Realizing the harmony of body, mind and spirit (or idea, language and story). You work to connect the single self to the whole wide world. 

This requires endless patience. 
And practice…

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