Old Moon

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I've just read a wonderful piece by a teacher of writing that cautions against overuse of metaphor. I've tried to take his words to heart. Sometimes, though, the circumstance can make a metaphor virtually unavoidable. He said that metaphor is a reductive device, and it is, which is one reason I so like to make use of it. What hadn't really concerned me before was his assertion that its use invites misinterpretation. ! Why didn't I think of that?

If your reader sees something different from your vision when you chose (or as happens, were chosen by) a metaphor, is that necessarily a bad thing? If you're trying to convey some difficult and relatively abstract piece of information (a concept in physics, for instance), perhaps it would be a bad thing. So what about fiction and poetry? Could the inherent flexibility of metaphor be an advantage?

In my personal case, the date drives me to a metaphor I can't ignore. Our wedding anniversary is December 22nd. Need I say more?


Roberta said...

While misinterpretation is a critical point to consider while writing, I rather like the idea of opening additional avenues of thought through the use of metaphor. Thank you for this tidbit!

Glenda C. Beall said...

December 22, your anniversary. I understand. June 14 was most difficult for me this year. How do you celebrate when the party is over?

JLC said...

I guess you don't. You try to find another place and occasion.