Another of Lamott’s metaphors, if the school lunches are the focus through which a story is found, then a Polaroid is how it develops. Watching the film develop on contact with air, each color slowly coming in and not looking quite how it looks in real life, but just a little different. Writing the first, or really any, draft is watching that Polaroid come to life, and maybe being a little surprised at how it turned out.
Lamott’s metaphor of the Polaroid may be a little off kilter, but it accurately summarizes some of the idea present in Flower and Hayes piece “The Cognition of Discovery”. In the piece, the theorists try to change the way ideation is treated, thinking of it more like problem solving rather than finding an answer. “The myth of discovery implies a method…based on the premise that stories of insight and ready-made ideas exist…waiting only to be ‘discovered’” (pg. 155). Lamott’s Polaroid has a similar idea to it. The Polaroid is a captured image of what the author has in mind for the story, but the developed picture is never quite the same. The “Eureka” moment is not so much a finding of what was there, it was working towards an end that cannot be predicted. The Polaroid is never what was first photographed, and the development of the Polaroid is a form of discovery in so much as the shaping of an idea, not something pre-made to be uncovered but built over time.