I’m having an ongoing discussion with a colleague of mine about metaphor and technical writing. When I teach a course in technical writing, my metaphor is “chocolate cake” and her metaphor is “toast without butter.” Her metaphor speaks to the nature of technical discourse: it’s not fun the way chocolate cake is nothing but fun. So, best to use a metaphor that reflects the medium. The writing has to be substantial, whereas I want it to be both substantial and tasty (not that chocolate cake is necessarily substantial).
My life metaphor is chocolate cake. In fact, it’s “chocolate cake with raspberry filling,” because I want everything in my life to be like chocolate cake with raspberry filling. My marriage, my friendships, my cycling hobby, my writing… it all has the potential to be chocolate cake with raspberry filling. And the more life in general becomes this metaphor, the more likely my technical writing students will understand that learning how to write proposals and reports is like chocolate cake–if you buy into the idea that communicating ideas through these mediums matters.
Here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe, in case you also want to give some texture to the metaphor.