All Storytelling is About Metaphor

A boxer takes a haymaker to the jaw. He falls. He struggles to one knee as the ref stands over him, counting, ” … two, three, four … ” Watch the faces in the arena. They have become that fighter. He is living their life, their struggle.

You are that fighter

That’s metaphor. That’s art.

You, the artist, are that fighter. You enact via your struggle (and the struggle of the characters you create), the life drama of those who look on as you fight. When we speak of “finding our own voice,” we’re not talking about finding our petty, selfish voice, mewling and sniveling about our own selfish shit. The voice we’re seeking is much bigger. It’s noble. It’s generous. It’s universal. It does not inflict itself upon the reader for its own self-interested reasons. Instead it seduces, intoxicates and incorporates the reader into a tale told of the reader and for the reader.

Your protagonist is not you. Your protagonist is the reader. You are not telling your story for yourself. You’re telling it for her. You’re telling her life story. You’re expressing her pain, her longing, her struggle.

Can you be that artist? Can you become that boxer? Can you train yourself and discipline yourself and motivate yourself to be good enough to merit a fight in an arena, a contest that people will buy tickets to see? Have you got the speed, the strength, the mental toughness?

Are you that fighter?

THE WAR OF ART

Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.

The-War-of-Art

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

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TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

16 Comments

  1. gwen abitz on September 30, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Damn well believe I am “that fighter”!!!!



  2. Mary Doyle on September 30, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Fighting the good fight every day!!!



  3. Sean Crawford on September 30, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Not me. I feel glum.
    I won’t mouth off what “I’m gonna do” but I will quietly get my act together, and only then tell someone…



  4. r. ganas on September 30, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Damn right I’m that fighter and hell’s bells- I’d even bite a guy’s ear off if that’s what it takes!



  5. Tine on September 30, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Beautiful, Steve. Thank you.



  6. Daniel on September 30, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Steve — This is one of your BEST posts, ever. Pithy and full of beautiful TRUTH.
    Thank you!



  7. Doug Keeler on September 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

    As we all know, the measure of a man or woman isn’t did you get knocked down, but rather, did you get back up.



  8. Curtis on September 30, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    The take away for this post….”Your protagonist is not you.”…..That takes writing out of the catagory of writing as therapy and frees the author to be, well, the writer. What a novel idea.



  9. David Kaufmann on September 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Many years ago George Lakoff wrote a book called “Metaphors We Live By,” in which he explored the concept that, in fact, all storytelling, indeed, almost all communication, is metaphoric. It’s an interesting idea. Life as struggle is as good a metaphor as any. The stories we tell are metaphors for other people’s lives.



  10. Sonja on September 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Yes, usual, I took my own take-away from this. So many lessons distilled in this one piece…let’s all hope we have what it takes to GET BACK UP and keep fighting. Some days are better than others.

    As always, thank you Steven!



  11. Bane on September 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I dreamed a dream in time gone by…



  12. C Monday on September 30, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you Steven, Callie & Shawn for ALLLLL the amazing writing WORK you do again & again & again. It ‘s not just inspiring & enriching but enmpowering. Thank you again from Lonon, UK.



  13. C Monday on September 30, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    *London*



  14. Joan Simon on October 1, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Hello, and thank you for this post. I was struck with the idea that I’m to give to my reader and for my reader. It seems my fight is to receive, first. Then, I actually have something to give.



  15. Pat Lange on October 5, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Bravo Steven, and I sincerely mean that.

    What I’d like to point out however, is that in this particular case the fighter has entered the ring voluntarily. In other words, he’s there because he wants to be.

    And not that we can always have what we want or do what we want, but if we’re gonna step into the ring it sure helps to be fighting for something we enjoy or care deeply about, so much so that it could potentially mean the difference between winning and losing.

    Just saying,

    -Pat



  16. Maggie Butler on October 7, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Pat, always did love that Name!
    Associated with poetry,family, Patrick Kennedy



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