I really do. Take my grandfather. He was dying, you know. So I wrote him a poem. I wrote it in my head on the bus, where I am frequently mistaken for an insane man. (It's because I mumble and count syllables on my fingers.) I called it Autumn Man, and I was very proud of it.
And then one day the 7:30 girl from three stops down (she's gorgeous. I can tell she's smart too - all those textbooks) gave me such a suspicious, pitying look, that I hauled out my notebook and wrote the thing down. Just so I LOOKED like I was doing something normal, you know.
And then I read it. And re-read it. And it was a cliché. All about harvest and setting suns and how good it is to die when you are right with God and your fellow man. That's the thing about clichés. They aren't trite because they're false, but because they're true. Hundreds of idiots have written the same poem I did, just as hundreds of girls have written little journal entries about the creepy crazy guy who's stalking them on the bus/stagecoach/footpath.
The tragic comedy of the matter is that I'm still proud of the poem. It says exactly what I felt. It says it as well as I can put it down, and I mean every word. The truly comic part is that my Grandfather DIDN'T die, and I'm still absurdly proud of it, and still feel it with all my heart.
As far as I'm concerned, the cliché is God's joke on us authors. Good authors hide their chliches with flair and cunning. Poor ones spout them out, apologetically, stuttering, counting the syllables, counting them wrong.
I love clichés. I love clichés like a child loves shiny stones.
- See! See! This one I found by the water's edge! (It's quartz, dear.)
- See how it shines? It's so pretty.
(You have an entire shelf full of quartz. You keep finding pretty stones. The creek is full of them. Throw it back.)
- But it's so shiny! Can I keep it? Please?
(*sigh* OK. Keep it, if it makes you happy.)
Oh it does. And "the man who is content with what he has is as rich as an Emperor."