I remember, vaguely, when I could look at a thing and think of it as just, you know, a thing. Roses were roses, snowflakes were snowflakes, and a pure-white bird taking flight into the sunset at the exact moment that I found a post-graduation job was weirdly coincidental, definitely, but nothing to get philosophical about.
Now though. Now I am A Writer. Worse still, I am A Reader of other Writers, and other Writers sure do love their metaphors. It wears you down after a while, all those figurative flourishes. Gets to the point where, if you aren’t going poetic about a cloud or a mountain every now and then, you start feeling a little left out.
I started with a simile. Those feel safe enough. I wasn’t saying that my eccentric professor is a baboon, just that he’s like one, and anyone could see they share certain similarities. A screeching laugh, for example, and a tendency towards nit-picking.
But simile is like a gateway drug: just a taste and you’re hungry for more. What could it hurt, I thought, I’ll just try it once. So naive. Metaphor is a helluva drug. It turns one thing into another with just a few words! The power was at my fingertips! I was a magician, a wizard — no, I was a goddamn god.
The power corrupted, as power tends to do, and now I find myself peppering my prose with the needless and nonsensical. Is the sky actually a turtle? Who cares! Is loneliness really a banana? It is if I say so! I laugh maniacally from my desk, a Lady Macbeth with fingers stained in bloody ink.
People shake their heads sadly and speak in hushed voices. That poor soul, they say. Another one lost (and here they shudder) to the terrible scourge of metaphor.