I was reading a post by Pat Thomson on her wonderful ‘patter’ blog today check it out here, in the course of which she mentioned the phrase ‘chunks and pieces’. My mindfulness colouring-in book must be working, because my brain immediately started ticking over, making creative links…to pineapples. A tin of pineapple pieces is a very handy thing to have in your pantry. It can be thrown into a beef curry (my version, not anything that someone who had an actual curry heritage would have anything to do with) or stirred through a tuna mornay (and if either of my kids is reading this, I will know, because I’ll feel the draft created by their eyes whizzing around in their sockets…this is not a good thing, just to be clear, but I do like a bit of tinned pineapple in my tuna and white sauce) or, more conservatively, served with vanilla ice-cream or yoghurt.
Pat wasn’t talking about any of these things, mind you. Her post was much more useful, unless you’re looking for a quick tuna recipe, in which case I’m your girl. But the phrase got me grappling with a pineapple metaphor about writing a thesis. The thing is, last week I met with my supervisor and she reminded me gently that I really do need to start showing some more concrete evidence that I’m writing. Assuring her that I write often (which I do) is not really cutting it now. The issue is that I’m not writing anything that she gets to see. I’m a bit private. I’m like one of those pre-school kids who won’t try to read or write something until they know they can do it correctly, although they may be secretly trying and trying, by torchlight, under the doona where no-one can see and so if they mess it up no-one will laugh. Erm, am I giving too much of myself away here?
So I’m thinking about the pineapple idea, and thinking how it’s a bit like writing – we have little pieces of text, which get built up into chunks, and the chunks into rings, and eventually we’ll have a whole pineapple to submit. Except, oops, major limitation in this metaphor: once a pineapple has been cut into rings, and the rings into chunks, and the chunks into pieces, it can’t really be reversed. Uh-oh.
And so the point of this blog post is to say, beware of relying too heavily on metaphor. I love metaphor as a way of expressing concepts, personally, but you really do have to be careful not to extend things beyond their natural elasticity. My supervisor is getting to know me well, and knows that it’s time for a little prod. She’s also absolutely right that I need to come up with an outline of my methodology chapter (this week’s goal) and I need to show it to her (next week’s goal).
I have lots of little pineapple-pieces of text lurking away in Scrivener*. I probably have the majority of my Methodology outline sitting in there already. So now, I just need to publish this post and turn my attention to building a pineapple…
*Free plug for this software, btw, if you’re looking for something that you can write in a non-linear way. Somewhat akin to doing a jigsaw but with pieces that you cut out and colour in as you go (oooh, was that another metaphor I just spied?)
** By the way, I do understand the difference between metaphor and analogy. I know I’ve mixed them up a bit in this post. Think of it as having a few cherries thrown in with your pineapple and ice-cream. Let’s not think too deeply about this one.