At Last! the Perfect Metaphor

Last month I wrote about my “working metaphor” for my creative and orderly sides: the Governess and the Jester.
I even managed to persuade myself that it didn’t matter that the two metaphors didn’t go together.

Until now.

As much as I like the idea of the Governess as the orderly, organizing side, a better metaphor has appeared – best of all, it goes with the Jester. (Pause for geeky metaphor happiness.) May I present: the Steward.

The Housekeeper - Nicolaes Maes

Not a steward of the turf or a male flight attendant, but an upper servant who is entrusted by his monarch or master with the management of the household or estate. (Also called a castellan, chamberlain, seneschal, estate manager or agent.)

The Steward does not manage the resources available to him for his own benefit, but for the benefit of his master – whether his master’s looking or not. He has authority, but he receives it, as he receives all things, from his master.

A Steward is a failure if he forgets that his authority is derived from his master’s, and starts to believe that the resources he manages are really his. Exhibit A: Malvolio.

Predictably, he makes a fool of himself.

But how does this relate to writing? The ability to write well is a gift – a talent, to quote the story of the three stewards. I didn’t give it to myself. All I can do is use it and improve on it as best I can, like a gardener who cultivates the earth to make it productive. As Leland Ryken says, “Since God is the one who calls people to their work, the worker becomes a steward who serves God”.

So here they are: the Steward and the Jester, each with a padlock about their neck to remind them of the master in whose service they find themselves. The one is a careful and diligent manager; the other is a carefree and happy-go-lucky creator – but they both work for the approval of the same Master.

Davidson The Court Jester

3 Replies to “At Last! the Perfect Metaphor”

  1. I like this idea! Makes me think of the personae post from a while back as well, especially since I view myself as having a serious side and a joking side. I also play an online game called “Town of Salem” where one of the roles is Jester, and his goal is to get lynched by the other townspeople. Basically, he has to look suspicious, but not so suspicious that it’s obvious he’s a jester. It’s a fine line to play, and one of my favorite roles. So basically I’m saying that I love the Jester idea! And I think the Steward is very apt, especially since there are excellent stewards like Gandalf and terrible ones like Denethor.
    Side note, I very much appreciate your clear writing and the continuity between your posts. It’s fun.

    1. Thanks! I must say, I am not aiming to get lynched, although I can imagine it takes some skill to get yourself lynched while convincing people it was their idea, not yours.
      Rather like the task of a Victorian debutante: find husband without looking like you’re looking!

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