Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Metaphors That Matter

The Short Iron Press

No this is not about weight lifting. It is about metaphors that matter.


Perhaps it is because I am a writer I see life unfold as a series of metaphors. It is the old “Life is a Box of Chocolates” notion.


Maybe it’s simply how my brain functions. I tend to understand more when I see life through “story.”


Take the gardening metaphor I use for writing.

Research? I liken that to preparing the soil.

First draft? Planting seeds.

Adding words? Watering and fertilizing.

Editing? Weeding.

Publishing? Harvesting.


My thinking isn’t limited to writing, though. I’ve compared my life to a jigsaw puzzle, marriage as a dance, and my education to a painting with layers and layers of color. I’ve described widowhood in terms of a boat on a rough sea shrouded with fog. 


As a professor, I’ve encouraged a few students to not give up on college simply because the four-year degree may take six. I’ve drawn a mountain on their notebook and described their journey as one that may meander this way and that. I’ve told them that though it may take them a bit longer to reach the top (graduation), the view once they get there is every bit as beautiful. 


I think in metaphor.


This week, I had the chance to golf. Real golf. Not the kind with windmills and clown faces. It was… So. Much. Fun.


I hadn’t been golfing since 2019. The weather was perfect and the company great. Moreover, since we were both fully vaccinated, we were able to go grab a bite to eat at a restaurant after our round. 


I came home from golf with new energy. I told my daughter about the day. During the conversation we started talking about metaphors that matter. 


Stay with me here. It will all come together. I promise.


A few years ago I wrote several handbooks for writers. One was on the habits writers cultivate to be successful, one on developing a business plan for writing, and one on marketing. My novels are with honest to goodness publishers, but I wanted to publish these handbooks myself. 


I studied the self-publishing topic. The trick, I’m told, is to give your “publishing house” a name. Some people use their initials or the street they live on. You get the idea. 


I wanted a strong name. Nothing girly. I chose the name Short Iron Press. I took it from my golf game. 


But after my conversation with my daughter, I’ve been thinking about it. Short Iron Press is more than a strong name. It is a metaphor for living. 


Spectators at a golf match are impressed with a long drive. Crowds “ooh and ahh” over a winning putt. But matches are most often won by how the golfer plays the short irons.


I’m talking about those clubs you use between that initial drive and that final putt. 


It may be the sand wedge that gets you out of the hole you’ve buried yourself in or the iron you select to hack your way out of the tall grass separating you from your target. Sometimes you select a club to maximize distance. Other times, you choose a club to simply put you in a better position for the next shot.


It’s what we do in life. We tee off. We make a million decisions along the way. If we’re smart we consult our Caddy. We move forward. We chase the ball and advance along the course of life. 


Trust me, you’re not going to see me on the LPGA tour unless I get a ticket as a spectator. However, if you watch carefully, you will see me choosing clubs, making decisions, giving my best effort, and preparing…no…anticipating my final putt.


What is the metaphor for your life?






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