This is a continuation from last week’s article in the same way that peace is a sequel of suffering.
You stare at the lines of black text on your laptop screen — the metaphor about nights and stars and being human. Something is missing; words are hoarded in the back of your throat and it’s unendurable, it’s suffocating, but you find yourself unable to cough out anything other than colorless blood. The figurative language you once deemed as clever now screams cliché. It’s pretentious; you’re pretentious, but you know of no other ways to write. To put it simply: you make metaphors out of everything because you think abstract things can’t weigh you down. You embody the paradox of using writing as a means to abstain from being human, knowing that it’s the most human thing to create — more than you make a home in your own torso.
“Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason,” poet Marie Howe has said in an interview.
You don’t have to craft your words so immaculately. There’s already a metaphorical beginning to your art, and that’s more than enough. Write on, without trying to create the next best poem of all times, without trying to impress anyone at all, in the absence of structure or purpose or any thoughts at all. If your piece was about being human — write just that. Write about the first time you fell in love without comparing their touch to Cupid’s arrow, write about the time you sneaked out at night for a meteor shower without starlight being symbolic of something bigger, write about blasting your favorite tracks in the rain without thinking of anything but the moment, write about last night and tell the story like you would in a diary untouched by the light of day.
If we continue from last week, it would look something like this in its entirety:
i am tired of being human. a pyre of light, overcasted by ashes. but i’ll be in my brightest form, like a dying star, waiting for you to reach me. i’ll burn myself into a supernova, the stardust in your iron veins. late july of 2017, i saw you walking down the hallway. you said my name with a smile before disappearing behind one of the classroom doors. i didn’t know how or why you knew who i was. the air smelled like lavender. i have been in love with you ever since.
Taking down metaphors is probably the opposite of every other writing advice, but then again, has our world ever made sense? Close your eyes, count to one, and write about the first thing on your mind. No symbols, no comparisons — just you and the words and the worlds in your head.
Like Thoreau has said, “many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after,” You use metaphors as an escapism more than an expression, and maybe, just maybe — you can stop running now. It’s going to be okay.
A few years ago, Taiwanese writer Yun-Fei Wang had begun using fiction as an escapism from the overwhelming sadness of being alive. Now that she's 16, falling deeper than ever, she can fortunately affirm that literature has been, is, and will be the only fragment of sanity in her life. Find her at a silent midnight, or at @immortalrainpoetry on Instagram.