A Powerful Metaphor for Writers

Hello, storytellers!

I hope this blog posts finds you well, warm, and full of writerly enthusiasm! If you’re not feeling so enthused, however, you’ve come to the right place. It’s my goal today to infuse your writing journey with a small, yet potent dose of inspiration, a dose which inspired me this week when I received it via my November 7th devotional reading.[1]

The devotional began with a brief anecdote about George Matheson, a blind Scottish minister and hymn writer who lived in the latter half of the nineteenth century. When they buried Matheson, mourners lined his grave with red roses as a memorial for his steadfast, sacrificial life.

In one of his hymns, Matheson penned these beautiful words:


I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.


While these words speak of death, and more specifically, life after death, I think they also serve as an illuminating metaphor for artists. Some of the most radiant blossoms we will ever produce will be born not of glory, but of death. Not of striving, but surrendering.



The metaphor was stretched farther for me by the devotional’s final story, which I’ve included here:


“There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red that no other artist could imitate. He never told the secret of the color, but after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. It revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures.

“The moral of the legend is that no great achievement can be made, no lofty goal attained, nor anything of great value to the world accomplished, except at the cost of the heart’s blood.”


I absolutely love this because it encapsulates a universal truth: the greatest things are achieved through passion, which most often requires enduring tremendous amounts of pain.

This is why love, for example, is so complicated. On the one hand, it gives us incredible joy, and the ecstatic, albeit delusional, sense that nothing will ever ruin it. On the other hand, it has the potential to ravage our hearts and break them into millions of tiny pieces.

And yet, most of us will never give up on love. Most single people will always remain hopeful that “the one” will come when the time is right. Those of us who are in committed relationships will stay true to our partners through thick and thin, through fair spring weather and merciless storms, because we believe that love prevails, and that the seasons of joy are more than worth the vales of tears.

I think most of you would agree that writing can feel a whole lot like a romantic relationship, what with its rollercoaster-like twists and turns, some of them thrilling, others nauseating. There are good days, when we just can’t wait to spend time with our stories, and bad days, when we wonder what in the world we ever saw in this whole writing thing.

But despite the doubts, tears, rejection, and the hours spent wrestling outlines and plots without making an inch of progress, we don’t give up. Like the artist in the story above, we know that to succeed is to bleed – not everyday, of course, but we mustn’t flee when things seem too hard, or even hopeless.

We must remember that those storm winds buffeting us are actually benefiting us, strengthening our roots, enabling us to grow deep, and stand tall. So the next time you’re feeling defeated, weary, weak, or overwhelmed, remember the minister and the artist, two souls who saw value in toil, and because of it, left the world a better, more beautiful place.



I hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, please pass it on to a friend or family member who might like it too! And if you have any requests for future blog topics, please shoot me an email at contact@dianaandersontyler.com or tweet me @dandersontyler. I love hearing from you!


[1] One of my favorite devotional books is Streams in the Desert. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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