I am a Writer
a Study in Metaphor
by Karen L. Oberst

  As writers, we all know the value of metaphors in our writing. But did you ever try to describe yourself or what you do by way of a metaphor? Here are several which explore the act of writing from different viewpoints. If none of these speak to you, create your own. The first is the most powerful for me, by the way. "...we all know the value of metaphors in our writing."

  I am a Spider I am a writer: I am a spider, spinning a web of meaning with words and images pulled from my soul. I display my beautiful and fragile work to the world, hoping to lure my readers, to catch them in my web of words and change their lives.

  I am a writer: I am a name-giver, the Adam of my world. Carefully studying each idea, each part of the whole, each character, that I may call them truly. For if they are not named well, not described well, they will not speak to those who enter this world of mine. What is beautiful in this new world? What is ugly? What is heroic? What is treason? If I have not described them well enough, my readers will not recognize them, and I will have failed. But name them well, and my readers will enter in and feel at home. My world will become their world and we will both have gained. I am a Name-giver

  I am a Singer I am a writer: I am a singer, singing my one song, my only song, the song of myself. I find the part of that song that speaks to others, and sing melody and harmony and truth in my words on the page. Can my readers hear my music? Does it harmonize with the music of their songs? Or is it syncopated, jarring, lifting them out of their comfort zones and into new truth? Awakening them to broader harmonies, introducing them to the beauty of a new voice, leading to appreciation of new forms. When I am truly a writer/singer, my readers' songs and my song combine to create a new song.

  I am a writer: I am a magician, conjuring something into being where nothing was before. Studying my art, learning the secret words to bring forth a world from the hat of my imagination. The hand is quicker than the eye. Did you see the trick behind my words? Or did I do it well enough that it all seems like magic? May I become better and better so that my craft does not show and my stories amaze and entertain. I am a Magician

  I am a Cook I am a writer: I am a cook, working in the kitchen of my imagination to create a new and delicious dish from the ingredients stored in the pantry of my heart and soul. Starting with the basics, with "real" food, not fluff or junk, adding the spice of imagery and metaphor, adding the leavening of plot and character, cooking it just the right amount of time in the oven of editing, until it is time to serve up the story, and find out if my readers taste a masterpiece or a disaster.

  I am a writer: I am a ringmaster, presenting the acts of my story to an eager audience. I make sure all the acts are ready, that they follow each other properly, that they entertain. And I am the tightrope walker, preforming feats of derring do without a net. I am the lion tamer, hoping to make my story perform without getting bitten by it. I am the clown, making people laugh, being someone else, hoping they won't see me beneath the paint. I am a Ringmaster

  I am a Carpenter I am a writer: I am a carpenter, building the house of my story from the bricks and mortar of my imagination. Laying the plans, drawing up the blueprints, laying the foundations with carefully chosen characters, building the walls of plot, roofing it with the perfect climax to complete my cottage or castle. Landscaping and adding the finishing touches with my language skills, hoping all the time that my readers will make it their home, at least for a little while.

  I am a writer: I am a cowboy, rounding up my ideas and driving them toward a coherent plot. Hoping they travel purposefully and don't stampede. Branding them with my personality--but discreetly! I am a Cowboy

  I am a Librarian I am a writer: I am a librarian, cataloging my thoughts, arranging them on the shelves so they make sense. Bringing the like ones together, so that readers who want a particular kind will find them together. Have I created the right access points? Have I labeled it all properly?

  I am a writer: I am a conductor, leading the orchestra of my thoughts, hoping they will play in harmony, leading them in a tune that will make the audience laugh or cry, and hopefully, applaud. Putting together the right mixture of music in my words to provide a theme and variations.

Has this helped to define who you are and what you do? Try creating some of these yourself--it's fun!

I am a Conductor

Copyright © 1998 by Karen L. Oberst

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