Cara FlettCongratulations to Cara Flett for Winning the August 2016 Barefoot Writing Challenge!

(Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

Most writers have a word or phrase they particularly loathe or detest using. Profanity, derogatory, and religious terms aside, what word or phrase annoys you and why?

Cara gave a humorous account of how one phrase gets under her skin, particularly following the new type of world thinking she picked up after taking an AWAI writing course. Enjoy her entertaining submission:

Food Metaphors That Fail

I blame Jay White…

Ever since I took his course, Email Copy Made Easy, my whole world view has changed.

Now, everything I see… hear… read — or even remember — provides me with ideas for stories I could weave into email promotions.

A story in the news about Elon Musk’s amazing new widgets could help me prove how the small things in life make the big things work much better …

A popular craze, like photobombing, could help me show how companies can pursue unexpected ways to stay top-of-mind …

And a memory of my grandmother’s delicious peach pies could help me tap into nostalgia to make new consumer items seem like old, favorite things …

In short, thanks to what I’ve learned from Jay, I view everything as “kind of like” something else.

Which is good when it helps me “transubstantiate” something into a compelling story that people easily relate to.

But it’s bad when it comes to certain business metaphors…

Bad. With. A. Capital. B.


Because, now that I view everything in terms of what it reminds me of, the phrase, secret sauce, has become “kind of like”… mystery meat.

The very mention of secret sauce, hurls me back in time to the summer camp I attended when I was thirteen years old.

The summer I became, for a short while, a vegetarian.

The summer when, every single day, this mystery meat was on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The summer I encountered the mystery of a meat so vile, so rubbery, so GRAY, nobody tried to solve it.

Crowds of hungry children sat on the floor to avoid it. Flies flew into flypaper to escape it.

Camp counselors grunted in unison as two of them hefted platters of it onto the center of each table — every meal.

Where not a child sat.

Or a fly buzzed.

And only one piece of mystery meat ever was taken every meal — on a dare.

A dare that always was lost because, even armed with a camp hatchet, a red-faced tween couldn’t hack off a piece to chew down…

So, thank you Jay White.

My new habit of “kind of liking” the world means I forever will replace secret sauce with competitive edge, underlying magic, or unique strategy. 

As for the business phrases, brain dump or big hairy audacious goal — let’s just not go there.