Apr 25 2011

Metaphor for Writing

Melissa Crytzer Fry

I’m honored to welcome writer V.V. Denman to What I Saw this week. I hope you’ll enjoy her guest post and the visual and metaphorical feast she’s prepared below.


In response to Melissa’s invitation to guest post on her blog, I found myself wandering around my backyard, camera in hand. (It didn’t take long as I have a small yard.) I began taking random pictures when an idea struck me.

Here you see the skeleton of my trumpet vine. We trim it back every fall because it grows wildly throughout the summer. Click to enlarge.

The first sprigs of vine begin to grow at the top of the fence in March. Click to enlarge.

The vines currently boast blossoms such as these. By the end of the summer, they will go berserk. Click to enlarge.

Even though I keep mine trimmed back more than this, new vines will inevitably pop up all over the yard. Click to enlarge.

My trumpet vine is a visual metaphor of the writing process.

(Work with me here.)

We begin with a bare-bones outline and a tiny sprig of an idea.

Then the plot begins to bloom and before long it grows into a beautiful story.

After a while, the draft becomes too wild and we’re forced to trim it here and there.

And no matter what we do, new story ideas pop up all around.

I’ll look at my trumpet vine differently from now on.

Can you think of a metaphor for writing?


V.V. Denman is a Christian writer from North Texas. When she’s not feverishly typing at her keyboard, she’s rolling her eyes at her husband’s corny jokes or laughing with her five children. Her two dreams in life are to raise said children to be responsible adults, then maybe – just maybe – get a bit of her writing published. Visit her at vvdenman.com.



Full trumpet vine photo credit: Fourth Picture – Wikimedia, Annelis


28 Responses to “Metaphor for Writing”

  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful post, V.V. My metaphor for writing might be that writing is like building a house (since hubby and I are doing that – ourselves). You need a good foundation (story idea) so that solid walls (chapters/scenes) can be built up around it. You also need the proper tools (characters, plot, theme) to get the job done, as well as a crapload of patience and trust in the process!

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Ha! So true, Melissa. Especially the bit about patience. And I like your reference to the foundation. If a story has a solid idea, the book seems to write itself. (Well, sort of.)

    Thank you again for the opportunity to guest over here on What I Saw. This post was enjoyable and your blog challenged me to work with my camera. Fun!

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  • avatar kd Sullivan Says:

    That’s a great metaphor…Mine would be making bread from scratch. I mix the basic ingredients, look at the dough and wonder how it will become anything edible at all. I place a clean cloth over it, and leave it for an hour, (or in the case of a story a week, month or year) and when I come back it has grown! I punch it down and turn it over, working the dough and leave it again. Only to find that the bread (idea, story) has again grown, sometimes spilling over the bowl I used to contain it. Then I put it in the oven. I guess that would be like sending the story to a publisher, because this is when we see what happens to the bread when exposed to heat. The house begins to fill with anticipation because the smell of fresh baked bread wafts in every nook and cranny of each room…and I hope, and I pray that it turns out right.
    You know when I first started baking bread, many times it didn’t turn out right and I’d have to start all over again. But it wasn’t a complete failure because learning to bake bread, like writing, is a process and takes practice. Even if you follow the prescribed directions or “formula” it you may find yourself with a brick, or a pile of gooey dough. The more you do it, the more you get a “feel” for it.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Wonderful metaphor. I can almost smell that fresh-baked aroma. You’re making me hungry.

    I find your words very encouraging. (I’m still in the gooey/brick stage.)But you’re right. Every attempt makes us better writers. 🙂

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  • avatar Erika Marks Says:

    A great metaphor, V.V. And wonderful pictures (Melissa does inspire, doesn’t she?!) I wrote a post once on cake baking/decorating as a metaphor to writing, on that your first draft is like an unfrosted sheet cake and that subsequent drafts that hone in on details and refine the plot is like the frosting and decorating part. (I was a cake decorator in a former life–I always revert to the food metaphors:)!)

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    I love it, Erika. I decorated cakes way back in high school. Great metaphor. You can take it back even further by saying that only the best ingredients should be used. Grammar, style, pov, etc.

    I’m getting really hungry now.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I’m jealous of your cake-decorating abilities. Treated my mom and me to a “Wilton” class and LOVED it. But, like with anything else, you don’t use it, you lose it. And I’ve clearly “lost” it. My roses now resemble pineapples!

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  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    Mel-iss-a! You’ve stolen my idea! 😉 My husband and I are also building a house, and time and time again I’ve seen it as a metaphor for writing. It has been one of the most arduous projects I’ve ever tackled (can pregnancy be any worse; tell me no!), but in the end, I will be able to stand back and say that this is something I have created.

    But, man oh man, I will be so glad when it’s over.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Spot on, Jolina. The things that take the most effort are generally the most fulfilling in the end.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh, Jolina … I’m thoroughly enjoying the house-building process as hubby and I work together on it. Of course, we’re taking the very LEISURELY route on our building project. A bit less stress that way (I think…?)

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    I’m with Erika — cooking/baking always seem similar to writing to me (and I once wrote a blog post about pie being like writing): deciding what kind to make/buying ingredients (the planning/outlining), making & rolling out the dough (first draft), making the filling (refining, editing), putting on the top crust (final draft), baking (sending out for submission), and eating (the finished product)….DELICIOUS!

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Excellent metaphor, Julia.

    Please tell me I can make mine chocolate. 🙂

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  • avatar Sara Says:

    I’m not sure if I can think of another metaphor for writing. My writing process is so spastic it’s hard to compare it to something else. I do relate to your metaphor of the vine though.
    I just recently came up with an idea for my first novel. I think it’s workable, and I’m really excited about it. But now the thoughts about my story and characters are constant and overwhelming, but growth always is, until it has matured 🙂
    Thank you for the thoughts.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Spastic. Now there’s the perfect adjective to describe a writer. Sometimes the words come easily, I have a million ideas, and the story works out perfectly. Other times . . . not so much.

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one feeling spastic. Nice to meet you, Sara. 🙂

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  • avatar Shari Lopatin Says:

    VV,

    What a great metaphor! I would have never thought of the trumpet vine in terms of the writing process, but what a perfect–and beautiful–metaphor! I’m glad to be back and able to comment on your posts agin. And Melissa, thanks for hosting VV’s beautiful post on your blog today!

    Shari

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Shari, I’m glad you’re back on the air. I’ve only been away from the computer for two days, and I’m going nuts. I can’t imagine how you feel. (I bet you’re SPASTIC.) *see above comment*

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  • avatar Leah Says:

    Really great post. I love the idea of finding something in nature that inspires or is a metaphor for the writing process. The trumpet flowers are perfect – bare tree then sprouts and finally flowers. Well done!

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Your blog was also an inspiration for this post. You’re pictures over there at Leah’s Thoughts are great! Thanks for stopping by.

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  • avatar MIchael Says:

    I think it was a great metaphor. I love the vine. For me I think of mopping a dirty floor. All the crud is everywhere, but when I clean it up it’s nice and clean.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    My rough drafts are definitely dirty floors.

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  • avatar Ann Rich Duncan Says:

    Beautiful words and pics. I sometimes equate writing with the work of a carpenter, starting with pieces of wood, joining them together and expanding with just the right amount of embellishments to create a work of art.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Yes, I envision sawdust on the floor and smell that wonderful wood scent. Great metaphor, Ann.

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  • avatar Nina B Says:

    That’s a PERFECT metaphor!

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Thanks, Nina. I had fun with it. The more I look around, the more I see tons of metaphors for writing. Probably because it’s a long hard process and so are most things in life.

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  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    I couldn’t think of a more perfect metaphor than that! It’s got everything: the spark of the idea, the growth and the loss of control, the necessary editing. It’s wonderful, and I’ll be thinking of it every time I see a vine.

    Along the same lines, I’ve always thought building characters is a lot like trees. Readers usually only see what’s above the ground: the trunk, the leaves…but if the tree/character is expected to hold up, it needs the solid foundation of far-reaching roots. So it’s up to the writer to know the intricacies of a character’s backstory, even if it all doesn’t end up on the final page.

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Ooh, I like that Natalia. Perfect description of character-building.

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  • avatar Amanda Hoving Says:

    Lovely metaphor, V.V. I’ve come up with a million of them for writing, but I don’t think any of them have been ensconced in nature. I think I’ll have to work on that now…

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    V.V. Denman Reply:

    Yes, once I started looking, there were writing metaphors all around me. Then again, I have writing on my mind all the time.

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