Jess Nickelsen: Discombobulated
April 27, 2022 - Altered Metaphors


I’m still really enjoying Tim Clare’s Couch to 80k” podcast series that I mentioned last time. I’m now up to Week 6, Day 3, and my notebook that I got for Christmas is now two-thirds full. I wake up each morning, and one of the first things my mind turns to is my ten-minute writing session. It’s joyful because it’s not required, not anything more than playing-around time.

That’s taken me a little longer than I’d like to admit. To get to that place, I mean. I write fiction because I enjoy the places my mind goes when I do it. I enjoy the problem-solving, the flights of fancy, the fine-tuning. I love it when everything comes together in some mad dash of synergy.

But in striving to finish things, to get stuff done, to be productive, a lot of the noodling-around fell by the wayside. What was the next story, and how soon could I turn it around and then get to the next one? All fine things to be good at, and strive for, but for me (someone who tends to get a bit serious” about things I like) stopping to play has been a little weird.

Most of the things in the podcast / class / (what do you call something like this?) have been really enjoyable, though of course there was last week, Trauma Week. Write in depth about previous traumas you’ve had. There are good reasons to do it, and Tim goes into those on the podcast. I did about two of them before I decided I’d had enough, and spent the rest of the week writing about strong emotions.” Not the same, really, and I did feel a bit of a phoney.

But now we’re on to weird metaphors. O happy place. We’ve been making lists of adjectives and nouns, combining those to make things like:

Love is like a crushed anemone

The moon is a perforated topaz

Death is sulphurous ambergris

The sea is like an imaginary sunrise

Writing is a magical shoehorn

The mind is a frothy bottle

Nothing that is meant to make sense. Just things that sound nice (and pretentious, but who cares) together. I do like frothy bottle” and I don’t see why love couldn’t be like a crushed anemone. (A few extras: a pungent hat-feather,” a crisp seagull,” a zigzagging bicycle,” and a sinewy coppice.”)

Today we looked at cliches and whether we can re-write any to make them more interesting. A few I liked that I came up with:

His heart hammered like his arrhythmia was starting up again.

She was white as supplementary rice at the takeaway. (Not so good; meant to be a replacement for white as a sheet.”)

She was as white as new blotter paper. (As smoke. As a new, crisp envelope.)

Angry as ants.

Angry as Tech Support on a Friday afternoon.

Angry as Tech Support on Monday morning after a company-wide password-reset.

Old as rocks.

Old as Egypt.

Old as Grandpa’s Sweater.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been playing with. Been busy with my new software testing job (20 hours a week) and doing Assistant Fiction Editor-y stuff at Utopia. Reading eight stories a week and making recommendations or sending rejection letters. Also helping review the next issue before it goes out. I also did a couple of great classes by Cat Rambo, Intro to Games Writing,” and So You Want to Put Together an Anthology?” — two things I’ve been interested in for a while. (Those two meant two 4:30am starts, two days on the trot. I’m still sleepy.)

Something else to noodle with!