Saturday, February 7, 2009


Some days when I write, I feel like I’m back to finger painting in kindergarten. Sticking my hands in a bowl of paint—or in this case, words, and aimlessly smushing them around on the page. The whole process just feels downright messy. No matter how I try, I can’t manage to stay within the lines or draw forth any sense or shape from my efforts.

Other days, I pick up a wide bristled brush and succeed in painting a few broad strokes to a scene. On these days, a form begins to emerge, blurry around the edges, lacking anything remotely resembling style or elegance, but if the lines are smudged, at least on such days as this, there are lines.

On a really good day, a fine bristled brush appears in my hand. I dip the delicate, tapered tip into my bowl of words and dart clear, sharp images onto the page. This is better than staying within the lines. This is creating the lines…the fine threads of a woman’s hair, the scrolling pattern etched into the hearthstones of the fireplace, the shattering discovery of the true reason one’s fiancé inexplicably abandoned one at the church door. This is a scene so keenly focused in my mind, that every dart of my brush’s point leaves in its wake a finely honed detail.

Last week was a messy, smushing kind of week for me. The kind of week that makes me question whether I still have a single drop of writing talent left in my veins. I find myself facing a new week with considerable trepidation. Will it be another finger painting week, a broad stroke week, or a focused, detailed week? I’d be encouraged just to have some combination of the three. Because as fun as finger painting might have been in kindergarten, I’ll never translate the story in my head by smushing words around forever.

(Originally posted on ANWA Founder & Friends)


Heidi said...

Such a great analogy! I have never thought about it this way but I have certainly felt as you do--why is it that some days the words just come and everything works out and other days, nothing I write is worth anything but a total rewrite?

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

But the real key is that you're still writing, no matter what. That's what separates the wannabes from the successful writers. And you are successful. Remember that.