It’s time to fish or cut bait

It’s time to fish or cut bait.

That was my first thought when Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write, issued her annual #bloglikecrazy challenge to publish one post each day for the entire month of November. Thirty days. Thirty posts.

A challenge that said to me, “It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

So I decided to fish. After all, if I’m going to be a writer, I need to write. And write I shall.

But what could I write about for 30 days?

Along about this same time, a colleague of mine from the great frozen north (New York) commented that I used a lot of idioms in my everyday speech. Where did I get them from? Why didn’t I just straight-up say what I meant? How did I remember them all?

Because it makes conversation colorful, I said. It’s interesting, entertaining. Why use one word when you can use five?

Idioms are something that have always been a part of my conversations and that of my family. They are sprinkled in daily talk like paprika on a deviled egg — you could live without it, but life would be ever so dull if you had to.

Which brings me to today, November 1, when I kick off #bloglikecrazy by saying “It’s time to fish or cut bait” and begin a month-long examination of some of my favorite idioms. After I jotted down about 150, i narrowed the field to 30 or so.

Here we go.

In my mind, the phrase “to fish or cut bait” means get busy or get out of the way. It’s a call to action. Either get out in the boat and haul in some dinner or stay on the dock with a can of worms. A lady-like version of “shit or get off the pot.”

However, a little research revealed, to my surprise, that in a fishing culture the act of cutting up bait fish into small and useful pieces is just as important and integral to the whole process of catching the fish as … well … actually catching the fish. Stands to reason, I reckon. But what about the implied, at least to me, idea that one action was more significant, more meaningful than the other?

After all, did you ever see anyone get a trophy for being a champion bait-cutter at the BassMaster Classic?

As it turns out, I was about half right. With the advent of plastic worms and other artificial lures, the act of cutting bait now means to sever the line and give up on trying to reel in that big one. It means the fish wins. You lose.

It’s a figurative “I quit.”

But I’m going to do my level best not to quit for the next 30 days. It’s time to go after the biggest, best idioms and leave linguistic monotony to the unimaginative, the uninspired, the dullards. It’s time to fish or cut bait.