Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG: Drowning in a Metaphor

There are times, when the work begins, when you're standing on the shore of an idea, fascinated by the glitter on the water.  And so you wade in.

The first few steps are sometimes the easiest, sometimes the hardest.  But once you've taken the first step, once you've got those early few words down, the next will follow, and the next, and the next, and you've finished the first chapter and you're up to your ankles in the story, and there's a way to the far shore, you know it.  And you know in your heart you'll make it there.

Sometimes there's a slope down into the tale, sometimes the ground drops out from under you.  Either way suddenly you're up past your knees, and you feel the current as the tale takes hold of you.  You could fight, you know that.  But the tale has a will and life of its own, a story that's set on telling itself even as you know it's yours.

And so you keep telling it, because you've come this far already, and it would be a shame to turn back when you've hardly started.

You press on, as the tale tugs at your feet, as the story winds its way through paths you chose and places you never thought to go.  It's getting deeper now, and you're up to your waist in the story, watching the people you've created struggle and dance and play their parts through the world in your head, the world that's no longer only in your head.  Their struggle is yours as well, whether you know it or not, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, because they came from you.

It's easy to lose track, the deeper you go.  The story leads you on, but it's a greater journey than you ever intended, and there are times when you feel like you're losing your way.  When you're up to your chest, arms high over your head to stay upright, doubts swirl around you and try their damnedest to pull you under.  Every one of the characters you thought you knew is in trouble, some of them the cause of that trouble, and that first idea that seemed so clear is lost in the depths and winding itself around your legs, a weight dragging you down.

It would be easy to stop.  To let yourself float away.  Why fight for the shore, when there's current enough to sweep you downriver, to let you close your eyes and drift, so that when you awaken you're back where you began, and that promising shore on the other side, you can't even see it anymore.  Like it was never there.

But that's not you.

So you'll dive in, plunge into the deepest part of your work, because no matter how much the characters fight it or what you find as you go, this story is yours, and you will make it work.  You'll get yourself tangled in the knot of the final act, thrashing through your own tale, because even if you've drowned yourself in your own metaphor you will see this through to the end.  One way or another, you'll find the strength, the breath, the will to see your work finished.

And in the end, you'll make it out.  Soaked and struggling, fighting for every last word with the ending clenched between your teeth, you'll pull yourself onto the distant shore.  And you'll know that what you've done is something nobody else could do.  Your story, your words, your way of seeing the world that's never quite the same as anyone else's, you've pulled it out of yourself and given it life.

It's not perfect.  But it's a part of you now, whole with its beginning, middle, and end, more than just the ideas you saw glimmering on the surface what seems like so long ago.  And you'll look back at how far you've come, and know that it was all worth it.

26 comments:

  1. What a great metaphor!
    Sometimes ... a single chapter can wring that entire experience out of you. I have met more than one chapter in my writing endeavors that felt like crossing an ocean all in itself!

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    1. Thank you! And I know I've felt like this after a book, but after a chapter? Yeesh. O_o

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  2. Excellent post. I could feel myself getting swept away with it. Often I try to figure out my path before stepping into the water, and other times, I need to just dive in. Usually diving in is more fun, but I typically wind up on the wrong bank. :)

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    1. Thank you. And yeah, I'm all about knowing the course before I even approach the river, but most of the time I don't end up quite where I thought I was going. But it still works.

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  3. I drown in metaphors all the time. They're dangerous things, easy to lose control of and quick to turn on you.

    You, on the other hand, seem to have a masterful command on this particular figure of speech. Well done!

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    1. Thank you, I really appreciate it. I was a little concerned that it would come off as too melodramatic, and second person's not exactly my thing, but it looks like it worked out well.

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  4. Exactly, Mason! Every finished book is so hard won. And only another writer will ever really get it :-)

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    1. Thanks! And while we all get it, I know I'm not the only one who reads some others' work and wonders how they make it look so easy. O_o

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  5. I think that is the perfect analogy.

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    1. Thank you. I was worried the general message would be too much like last month's IWSG entry, but I think it worked out well.

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  6. Totally wonderful and spot-on metaphor. I was with you the whole way :) I can't wait to see what comes out of this!

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    1. Thanks. ^_^ And trust me, you will see it. Bwa ha ha. :P

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  7. Oh, it's most definitely worth it. Great description! :)

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    1. Thank you! I think sometimes we have to look back at the whole process to see it's worth it, but it is.

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  8. Wonderfully written! And oh, those currents...always tugging one away.

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    1. Thank you. And yes, I've been tugged this way and that with most everything I've worked on lately. Oi.

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  9. I'm pretty sure this is the most beautiful thing I've ever read. Just reading this tells me what a talented writer you are, Mason. Wow. I resonated with this SO MUCH. No words. Spot on and perfect--all of this. What baffles me is that we do this on purpose. We. Are. Insane…

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    1. O_o I don't think it could be THAT good. But thank you.

      And yes... we're all mad here.

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  10. Mason, now that was a rich post and fun to read. I live close to the beach and can relate to the images and apply them to my struggles I need to overcome.

    Stephen Tremp
    IWSG Co-host

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    1. Thank you! I'm originally from Southern CA and spent a lot of time at the beach, so I think that subconsciously came back to me when I was working on this.

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  11. Love it. So true and beautifully written. This describes every project I've written (and probably everyone I'm ever going to write).

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    1. Thank you. And yes, I'm working on something now (and was when I wrote this), and I think it works pretty well.

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  12. Nah. I backfloat through the process. ;) (I wish.) I laugh every time someone says, "Yeah, I'm writing a book! It's my first one and I've got three chapters written." Here's to muscles developed from swimming in deep waters!

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    1. Indeed! And y'know, all of us were once at that point of being a few chapters into our first book. Everyone starts somewhere.

      ...it's those of us who stick with it that end up going mad. ^_^

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