Kath here.  Today’s post is by our new contributor Jan O’Hara!  Therese and I are so pleased that she’s beginning her journey with Writer Unboxed.  Jan, welcome!

Look for some changes in the upcoming days as we finally tackle our neglected sidebar and do some reorganizing.  In the meantime, enjoy Jan’s inaugural post!

It was cleaning the sink that invited this blog post to be written, and not only because I’d unplugged from the Internet and finally allowed my subconscious to work. Let me explain.

I’d gone to housecleaning, fresh from a message board where another writer had written the equivalent of, “Help. I’m getting no agent love and I think I want to quit writing.” Though I had already provided a response, that interaction remained very much on my mind.

As I wiped away the detritus of my husband’s morning shave, and evidence my kids finally understand toothpaste’s purpose, words formed in my brain: “Tell Anonymous Writer you don’t stop scrubbing the porcelain just because you don’t expect company.”

“Yes,” I thought. “That’s right. Unless you’re the owner of the 7-11 on 48th Avenue, you’d probably agree there’s a point to sink-polishing and good workmanship. It’s a sign of respect for oneself and others; it’s healthful. When seen with the right eyes, it’s even a thing of beauty. Writing without promise of public recognition is exactly like cleaning a sink when only one’s family might use it.”

Now right here’s where this post gets weird: This kind of experience – where the universe speaks in metaphoric language – is no longer unusual. Similes find me wherever I go. They’re particularly fond of bumping into me when my shopping cart is full and I lack paper and pencil.

I first noticed it a few months ago while blogging, when I sought a way to describe my frustration with a difficult scene. It accelerated when I went through a stage where I wrote bad, rhyming poetry and needed access to the density of symbolism. All of a sudden, four pages became a torrential river to cross; my muse a maturing child with whom I negotiated a new relationship; my synopsis a —

No. I don’t think we know each other well enough for me to go there just yet. ;)

To tell you the truth, I’m kind of entranced with this worldview. It’s as if I’ve lived in a land with fantastical creatures my entire life, yet it took the lens of writing to permit me the ability to see them. It’s akin to what I imagine I’d feel if, in the process of buttering my Texas toast one morning, I lifted a slice of bread and found a fairy.*

“Good mornin’, darlin’,” he might say, pressing his cowboy hat to his chest while favouring me with a lazy smile. “Unless you have that generous heart of yours set on peanut butter, the strawberry jam looks mighty appealin’.”

See? There I go again. I can’t help myself. As I type this, I’m imagining my toast fairy crossing his little cowboy boots at the ankles as his wings lift him into the air. I’m thinking I’ll never look at a PBJ the same way again. What’s more, I bet neither will you.

So am I alone in this experience? Do you seek symbolism in the world? Has writing changed you so that metaphors find you without conscious effort on your part? Have you already met my toast fairy and been charmed?

*I don’t recommend interacting with the white-bread Texas-toast fairies. They’re constipated and subsequently cranky. In my opinion, you’re better off with their whole-grain, whole-wheat counterparts.


About Jan O'Hara

Jan O'Hara left her writing dreams behind for years to practice family medicine, but has found her way back to the world of fiction. Currently the voice of the Unpublished Writer here at Writer Unboxed, she hopes one day soon to become unqualified for the position.