Friday, November 19, 2010

Metaphors and Rivers

For my current WIP I needed a metaphor. Preferably something to do with water. I’d already used one concerning sirens, and needed something deeper.


Still waters run deep.

Ever stop to think about that old saying?

The old adage immediately brought two images into my mind. The first, a cheerful, sparkling, babbling brook tripping down the stones of a garden. The other, a wide, flat-surfaced creek. The exact picture that came to mind was Sally Field and Rob Liebman in the movie Norma Rae, swimming in the crik. Other images of steady waterways in my mind include the Yukon and Mississippi Rivers. I’ve actually spent more time sitting and watching the Yukon than I have the Mississippi, which still isn’t saying much. Neither can be counted in hours or days.

Anyhow, to get on with my metaphor situation--ahem, I sidetrack easily--some people are like brooks and streams. Bright, pretty, active. They provide a pretty melody, and if there’s no other source of water around, they could, in a dire emergency, keep you alive. Provided there’s not a drought going on, as they’re amongst the first of water sources to diminish and dry up. And if you were a small fish, or a leaf, you could catch a ride on a stream and tumble your way down to the larger creek or river or lake it runs into. Useful in a limited capacity, sometimes all you need from a stream is a pretty song, a peaceful interlude, and time to luxuriate in its beauty. You can see right clear through to the bottom and might see your distorted reflection smiling back at you. When stormy weather comes, they bubble up fast and furious. A strong enough storm can change their course and rearrange the rocks along the way, perhaps forever drastically altering the nature of the stream.

On the other hand, there's the broader, steadier, deeper river. The surface is mostly smooth, the water giving the appearance of slow movement, but sometimes when you climb in, you find the current is stronger than it looks. For the most part, you can depend on that river to be a solid predictable support. Water, fish, plants… it provides for an abundance of needs. It sustains life in many forms as well as means of travel.

Sure, there may be rapids along the way, but you generally know where they are and how to navigate through, or, around them. That’s not to say rivers are boring, but no means. Even they can change their nature, but usually it takes a pretty big event to rile them. A huge rainstorm or extra large chunks of ice breaking free in the spring can devastate for miles, wiping out homes and villages. The bigger they are, the more immense the havoc they wreak. All things in proportion. However, smaller storms often to unnoticed by them. They can absorb the tempest with hardly an extra bubble.

The power it takes to stir up a river is awesome, mighty and far reaching, but you know, in the end, eventually it’ll settle back down, possibly with a slightly altered course, maybe with a little more silt, or maybe with a whole lot less. But essentially, the changes won’t be great, and once more you’ll have your solid, dependable, nourishing river back.

So how does this metaphor work? Turn it around to the people in your life. Are you drawn to rivers or brooks? Of course it isn’t that simple. People are too complex to fit into a narrow description such as river or brook, but I think I can see signs here and there that make for amusing comparisons. Sort of like using astrology to figure out your friends and loved ones. Doesn’t always work because there are too many other factors at play. A Taurus with Irish ancestors. Now there’s a mix.

I find I’m drawn to both the brook and the river. I tend to be more river-like, slow and pondering and appreciative of a steady course. But every once in a while, I want to break out and let my bubbles go wild. I want to sing and dance and carry a pretty leaf along for a ride. I get to do this with my characters. Which woman is the hero most drawn to? He can have a most difficult choice. This is what makes my job interesting. I get to study both the brook and the river and the man choosing between them. Or the woman contemplating her options between attractive heroes. If she's really lucky, she lives in a world where she gets to keep one of each.

Maybe I should just stop with the dreaming and get the book written…

Morgan Q. O'Reilly

Come Play with Morgan and Get Some Tonight for books by Morgan O'Reilly and Shea McMaster
Available now: Borealis II A Space Anthology, Bleu Lies by Shea McMaster
Coming 2011 from Lyrical Press: Til Death Undo Us and Rachel Dahlrumple


Boone Brux said...

Lovely blog, Morgan. I definitely believe there are creeks, rivers, and wide deep oceans of people out there.

Vee said...
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DeNise said...

What a boring world we'd have if we didn't have all those water-ways to cross. Personalities to cope with. At least when we write we can choose to change the babbling brook into a deep stream, humm, now about my DH.

Morgan O'Reilly said...

Boone, what a wonderful, amazing world we live in, yeah?

DeNise, I can think of a few deep creeks who could spend a little more time seeking their inner brook ;)

TY Ladies!

J. Morgan said...

I think I'm a big fat lake, because all I do is sit around. You my most special friend are a boiling river that spawns so many ideas, it's scary and wonderful at the same time, because we get to enjoy those ideas in the form of nice long reads.

Morgan O'Reilly said...

So says the guy who gives me more story ideas than I can write in a lifetime...

Mwah to you, Jmo!

Tamera Lynn said...

Morgan, as a friend, you are definitely a river, my dear. Deep and mysterious at times, but steady in your riverbed. I love the metaphors you developed here. Makes me think of people - and my characters - in a whole new light.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Talk about an extended metaphor, great blog! Maybe some of us area little of both, a bubbling brook with some deep wide sections. You've given us a lot to think about, thanks.