Metaphor MouseBackground: the metaphor technique is something I’ve adapted from Suzette Haden Elgin‘s teachings. It’s a terrific tool for destuckifying.

We play with this one at the Kitchen Table and some of my wacky events. It’s mainly an excuse for me to make my “What’s a meta for?” joke, but the results are seriously great.

It’s also how I discovered that I work on a pirate ship. Which helped me with my hackers. And my fear of being beautiful.

More recently we turned my horrid Tickler file into an Iguana Watcher’s Guide And we turned “doing taxes” into a Secret Money Cave where I visit my treasures, take notes in my Pirate Log and make a Tribute to the lands that allow me access to their fair harbours.

Please note the gorgeous new Metaphor Mouse graphic.

Metaphor Mouse power ACTIVATE! Now 97% more awesome.

Blah blah editing. Unpacking (metaphor!) the metaphor.

The situation:

I’m currently working on several very fun secret projects.

And three of them are at the super boring (for me) editing stage.

But not yet at the sub-stage where I can outsource the editing, because we’re still at the part where it’s about content. And it needs my brain.

Except that my brain is not so into it, because my brain is high on Shivanautical epiphanies and being in the zooooom of the creative process. Zoom!

So something needed to shift but I hadn’t really done anything with this. Until I caught myself using the word DRUDGERY while on the phone with Pam.

Drudgery? No wonder I don’t want to spend time on it.

This looks like a job for … Metaphor Mouse!

* Again, this is is just me yelling I AM METAPHOR MOUSE to the song I am Iron Man. Obviously.

Unpacking my CURRENT relationship with this. (EDITING = ?)

What are the qualities, aspects and attributes of the thing that isn’t working (including what *is* working — if anything)?

[+ necessary]
[+ vital]
[+ valuable]
[+ specialized — not everyone can do it at this phase]
[+ but not special — doesn’t use my genius, other than indirectly]
[+ boring]
[+ takes time away from creative fun]
[+ extremely un-sparkly]
[+ where is the sparkle?!]
[+ not graceful]
[+ avoidance]

Reminds me of?

It’s some sort of physical task that requires effort, can sometimes be engaging but isn’t that exciting.

Painting? No. Spackling.

Way more fun to say than it is to do.

Is there a metaphor here?

Not sure yet. We’ll go with spackling for now. At least I get to say spackling. Spackling!

Schpachtel! Or Spachtel, if you prefer to Germanize the spelling.

Yes, I know I’m distracting you to avoid being Metaphor Mouse. Must. Activate. Superpowers.

Learning more about my IDEAL metaphor (X = ?)

What sort of qualities, aspects and feelings does the thing I want contain?

[+ necessary]
[+ vital]
[+ valuable]
[+ special]
[+ sparkly!]
[+ movement]
[+ flourishes]
[+ attention to detail]
[+ engages my attention]
[+ fun]
[+ energizing]
[+ excitement]
[+ anticipation about the finished product/end result]

Reminds me of?

It seems like … what I want to be doing is a lot like playing with something you’ve almost mastered rather than working on mastering it (practicing scales isn’t fun but doing extra-flourishes once you’ve learned something is).

No, that’s not quite right.

It’s like getting ready for a party. It’s decorating for the Sparkly Dance Party. For a surprise party!

So you’re working on something. And setting it up. And putting finishing touches on it.

But it’s not boring, because there’s music and snacks and energy and excitement, and you’re getting the thing ready for a surprise that will make people happy.


What do you think, Metaphor Mouse? Are we at metaphor?


We have officially reached Metaphor!

Are we comfortable with this one?

Or do we need an intermediary metaphor to be a bridge (ding! metaphor!) to help you get from where there to here?

I think it’s good.

Streamers! Magic markers! Balloons! Surprises! Icing! Permission to be silly and messy and see what happens!


What needs to happen next?

Okay. If “editing” is now DECORATING FOR THE SURPRISE SPARKLY DANCE PARTY … what needs to happen?

And how do we make it more fun?

We’ll need:

  • a list of what needs decorating when
  • a designated space/time/container for decorating
  • engage my Group Leaders at the Kitchen Table for support and cheering
  • to use the Iguana Chicken board at the Table
  • an editing costume a decorating costume (an apron?)
  • a Sparkly Dance Party decorating soundtrack (and some Dance of Shiva, of course)
  • to make a distinction between products (crap, I need a metaphor for products!) that need decorating and HATS that need decorating.*

* A HAT is what I call a “sales page” because sales pages make me throw up. It stands for Havi’s Announcing a Thing, but it actually doubles as a pretty good metaphor too.

Reporting back:

Okay. I only just came up with this one.

But I can already tell that I feel considerably less inclined to go into avoidance mode when I think about editing going into decorating mode.

And I have an experiment planned: to sit in a cafe and do 45 minutes of decorating, just to see how it feels and what it needs.


Would you like to play? Comment zen for today.

You are more than welcome to do your own Metaphor Mouse-ing on something you’re working on.

Or to celebrate with me and/or decorate sparkly hats.

As always: we let people have their own experience, and we don’t give advice (unless someone specifically asks for it).

Decorating! Hats! Mice! Come play.

The Fluent Self