Is my prose too purple, are my metaphors too wild?

Is my prose me?

Too purple? Are my metaphors wild? Or barely leashed? Or me, writing in passion?

Could anyone else write them? Then no, it is NOT too purple.
It isn’t purple at all.

Point is, it doesn’t matter if metaphors carry all the truth, only that they carry some truth. No analogy is perfect – they all fall apart when poked too hard – but that’s not why we use them. We use them for the gut feeling of rightness that comes from explaining the unknown in terms of something we DO understand, even if we grasp it only for that moment.

Writers are unique, one of a weird kind

This IS me, writer. This is how I think, how I put words together, how I see the world – that’s what you want, if you want anything at all from me. Most people in the world will not – the size of my tribe is in my overlap with the people who have some part of the same soul, and that has never been up to me, but only to He Who made us all. Too raw? Too bad.

Even this post is TOO me. A real magazine – not my own personal blog – would never take my ravings and rantings and publish them for all to see. But I will put my words out: I have to.

My most private thoughts – made public. Well, SOME of my most private thoughts. The ones that affect how I write, what my ‘style’ is, what my content is – the stuff about me that is unique, and will either repel or attract you. The stuff I’m trying to channel, control, when the barriers are down, the brain is working after its fashion, and the fingers have to type fast before the next thought vanishes.

I have limited amounts of ‘me’

After the worry about Monday’s appointment with the orthopedic surgeon (of course he wants to operate – but may be willing to do less ‘work’ – damage – than the other guy) – and the aftermath of traveling there, trying to be coherent while talking to him, raging through the conclusions and choices – it has taken me THIS long to get back to having some of my SELF available to ME, to write with. Four days. Now do you see why I hate to leave the house? Positively hate doctors and their appointments and their stress?

This person who writes words is what I struggle to give time to every day of my life. The one that is just beneath the surface most of the time because of the ravages of the stupid CFS I’ve been battling all these past years.

If I manage my self, my body, my sleep, my meds, she gets some writing time to be us. That’s the best I can explain: we get to be us when the rational steps, the boring steps, the managed steps lead to a little time during the day and between naps (aargh!) when the brain is on, the brain fog is temporarily lifted, and the creative side can take over the fingers.

How much of your self is truly yours?

All humans live somewhere along the continuum between base needs – routine, and the best of which they’re capable – the creative side. Most humans spend so much time satisfying the basic needs of the body – which includes the need to be social, work, rest, take care of offspring… – that there isn’t much left for the creative side. To make room for writing, often something must go. The easy (easier) ones are the obvious timewasters – tv, the internet, games. Harder: pleasurable activities such as reading, friends. Hardest: earning a living, having a spouse and children, being someone’s caring child.

What do I give up? I laugh: the disease I have (CFS, ME/CFS, CFIDS, chronic mono, ‘Yuppie flu’… – pick a name) has long ago taken most of my choices away from me.

Choices, schmoices

The main remaining one is my sense of order: the mess in my home and drawers could be put to rights with a dedicated effort – but no words will flow if I do that, because I will be too exhausted.

I know, when I can’t keep the tiny section of desk that I write on/with/in even marginally clear, that I have pushed myself too far. It is a reliable indicator that I can’t write right now.

But when I get a part of my brain to use, I will always clear the minimum amount of space – and then turn to writing, rather than continue with cleaning, because I have finally learned I can’t have both.

I find that censoring my own words takes some of the same effort as cleaning: it is easier to let them out. I can edit, revise, discard with the best of them – my typical ratio is at least 10 to 1 words written vs. words kept. I don’t do that WHILE writing – because I CAN revise with half a brain.

For my fiction, the words aren’t allowed in public until thoroughly cleaned up.

For blog posts – well, this is a typical example: open the brain, let it all fall out, edit a bit for order, slap some headings in there to warn people what’s coming, and put it up there on my very own personal online magazine. It is cathartic for me – maybe someone else will find it useful.

And now, having finally wrestled the ORDER for Scene 16.1 out of the void it’s been in for the past month (as I figured out how to begin and end what will be the last Act in Book 1), I will take a nap – and go back to constructing it out of the jigsaw pieces which finally came together this morning. Passionate (but not purple) prose and all. Wish me luck.

Is your prose purple – or do you bother worrying about it?


7 thoughts on “Is my prose too purple, are my metaphors too wild?

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    I never worry about the purpleness of my prose. Did I communicate what I wanted to communicate? That’s my focus. My editing cycles feature the pruning of qualifiers. Two years ago, I used far too many. Out they went! These days I’m more efficient, but a few unnecessary qualifiers occasionally creep in. “Out! Out!” I say. Interestingly, many of my reader reviews mention my lyrical prose or my formal prose or my refreshing prose. But my happiest writing experiences occur when I feel the rhythm of my story and express it in words.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Rhythm is all-important. I hear it in my head – it determines the difference between writing “it is” or “it’s” in a sentence, because of the number of beats.

      I’m aware of it because I also want to do my own audiobooks. As the author, if I’m reading along and the cadence is wrong, I can just change it. Power!

      I know you like DLS – read Busman’s Honeymoon passages out loud – they were designed originally for theater – and they sing.



Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.