Thursday, September 17, 2009

Writerly Wednesday (a day late): It's like a . . . a . . .

So, on my way home from work last night I fretted over the inspirational brain drain I've been experiencing lately.

It's bad when you can't think of anything new to blog about. But like an angel from heaven, an idea came to me in the northbound lane of Highway 13. Actually, the radio station delivered the thought -- via the lyrics of a John Fogerty tune.

One line from the song "Rock 'n' Roll Girls" got stuck in my head: "Sometimes I think life is like a rodeo. The trick is to ride to make it to the fair."
For some reason that line burrowed its way into my head and, like the detonation of an atom bomb, one thought spurred another until a mushroom cloud of memories filled my head.
I started thinking about all of the similes and metaphors I've heard about life.
There's John Fogerty's life is like a rodeo.
There's "Forest Gump's" life is like a box of chocolates. (You never know what you're gonna get.)
There's "Joe Dirt's" life's a garden. Dig it.
There's Serj Tankian's (Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down) "Life is a waterfall; we're one in the river and one again after the fall."
And then there's Claude Pepper's "Life is like riding a bicycle. You don't fall off unless you plan to stop pedaling."
When the dust left by my life simile and metaphor memories finally settled, I was left with one question: How do people come up with good similes and metaphors?
(Simile -- a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word "like" or "as". Metaphor -- a figure of speech concisely comparing two things, saying that one is the other.)
I'm terrible at them (as you can probably tell). I'm terrible at coming up with them. I'm terrible at the follow up explanation as to why one thing is like another. I overthink them. I've found myself wasting entire days completing a simile or metaphor.
Luckily, writers are supposed to use them sparingly. Unfortunately, we're still expected to create them.
So what's the secret? Is there a secret? Have you heard any really good ones that almost knocked your socks off?


KM Wilsher said...

I like "Life is a Highway" :O)
I can't think of any unique one LOL

ElanaJ said...

I'm not good at them either. But when I see one I like, it hits me in the gut. I liked one I read a while back. And now I can't phrase it right. I've tried to write it three times! Sigh. I'll look it up when I get home.