Writing as a Metaphor for Life

I love to talk about the elements of storytelling and the mechanics of writing even though I seldom write fiction any more. For me, writing is a metaphor for life. People don’t seem to want to talk about the philosophical aspects of human motivations or the meaning of life, but if I phrase these questions as part of a discussion about fiction, writers are more than willing to share their ideas.

I’ve had online discussions about the importance of feeling important, about our self-concept and how it motivates us, about how we are only as good as that which angers us, how kindness can drive our lives, how our family and our background creates us, what we win by losing and what we lose by winning. Outwardly, all these discussions were about creating believable characters so real they come alive, but beneath the discussions of characters and place and background, we were talking about us. What gives us worth. What makes us real. What life means.

Life, like writing, is all about connections. Writing coaches often describe a story and its conflicts as war, but a different way of looking at story conflict is connection and disconnection. Like our characters, we relate to other human beings in a constantly changing series of connection and disconnection — from birth to death, from falling in love to grieving, from listening to ignoring, from embracing to turning away, from anger to forgiveness.

Life, like writing, is about learning, perfecting one’s craft, whether breathing life into words or simply breathing life.

Life, like writing, is a puzzle. We follow our story however and wherever it leads us, trying to fit all the pieces into a coherent whole. In writing, we must find the coherency. In life, sometimes coherency eludes us, yet we still puzzle it out the best we can.

Someday, perhaps, I’ll get back to writing fiction. In that case, I’ll probably stop talking about writing. Or maybe it works the other way around. If I stopped talking about writing, maybe I could write.