Clichés are a big no-no for writers. It’s considered lazy to use a tired idea or commonly-known phrase rather than doing the work of describing or creating something with your unique twist.
Not: He had the face of a Greek god.
Instead: He had a face that made good sense fly off into the night like a discarded pair of panties.
Not: She ran like a bat out of hell.
Instead: She darted from the room like debt collectors were coming up the walk and would soon see her through the window.
Maybe not the best examples, but why hit your readers over the head with a concept as old as the hills (see what I did there?) when you can wow them with something more “you?"
But in life clichés are valuable. We need them to remind us of things that are easy to forget. For instance, if I had remembered the old phrase “a stitch in time saves nine” when I was thinking that outlining would take too much time, I might not be back at the drawing board with my work in progress. (It’s going fantastic, by the way! More fun than I’d imagined.)
I turned thirty this week, folks. The big three – O. And damn guys, life is short. I’ve heard this phrase so many times; usually from well-meaning souls trying to convince me to slow down and have patience.
We know life is short and we know that we can never be sure how short. Recent, horrific mass killings have been a nasty reminder. But, we aren’t always looking at our lives through the lens of world tragedy and often, time can seem to drag.
When you’re a child waiting for Christmas morning, it’s hard to be patient. When you’re a teen longing for freedom in the form of a driver’s license or moving out of the house, it’s impossible not to wish the time away. Someone suffering from depression doesn’t see life as a fast-moving adventure. Nor does the worker waiting for a vacation or the parent waiting for their child to be out of diapers.
At times like those, hearing “life is short” can be infuriating.
But sitting here now, I am amazed. Wasn’t it just the other day that I was triumphantly reciting my ABC’s for the first time? Wasn’t it just last week that I was saying “yes” to the handsome man on one knee on the dirt floor of a barn? Suddenly I’m married, have two children, and my knee injury aches when it’s cold outside. A huge chunk of my life is behind me and I was there. I lived it and yet I never really grasped it as it was happening.
Life is Too Short:
I’m learning more about writing each day. And every time I commit a new lesson to memory I realize that there is so much left to learn and tons of space up there in my brain. It’s the same with my life. Wisdom isn’t knowing many things, it’s understanding that you’ll never be able to count up all that's left to know.
I’m sure this has all been said before and more eloquently, no doubt. But, this week of my 30th birthday, it feels like the most important thing I could share. Life is short.