Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 2, 2009

Metaphor, Memory, and Miss Eudora Welty

Becky Levine on the Writing Path recently asked about metaphors for the writing process. When you write a lot, many metaphors come to mind about what you’re doing. Some not especially attractive, and others I mix like mad. You know, a sledding metaphor in May with some housekeeping thrown in. I believe blogs should be a little edited, but kind of a playground, too. Let the metaphors mix and mingle!

Sometimes when I write a sentence that comes out right, I feel like the teenager I once was carefully putting the needle of a record player on the song I wanted. The needle falls on exactly the right line so I can hear Laura Nyro sing “Stoney End” one more time. It’s the needle on the black circle that comes to mind when I feel words fall into place. I’m all for new technology, but I sometimes wonder, would life be different if I didn’t have that tangible moment from my past?

Another stored moment is of placing sewing patterns on cloth on the dining room table, pinning together crinkly paper and cloth, and cutting out shifts and skirts. So I kind of knew what Eudora Welty was talking about when I heard her on TV long ago. She was shown walking around papers laid out on her elegant dining room table, saying in her Mississippi accent that revising, deciding what paragraph goes where, is “just like cutting out ah dress.”

I tried looking up this old interview on youtube, but sadly couldn’t find it, though there’s a nice one of Beth Henly talking to Welty about “A Worn Path.” You get to hear that slow soft voice. And here is a picture of her at her dining room table, borrowed from



  1. Just like cutting out a dress? Eep. I hate cutting fabric, in case I make a mistake. I’d never write if I bought into Eudora’s opinion!

  2. You’re right. Our computers with delete and help buttons are much more forgiving than scissors and cloth.
    That was one confident writer!

  3. Love the image of the needle in the record groove! Oh that is perfect. I used to pride myself on how well I could place that needle smack dab in the midst of the album so I could go right to my favorite song.

  4. It’s been so so many years since I’ve done that, but when a sentence hums, that’s the image that often comes to my mind!

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