At the beginning of my organized schooling, our teacher presented each child in my class with a beautiful, box of Crayolas. Here was a brand-new package, no lid ripped from the top, no broken or worn-down colors, and it was just for me.
I also received a reader. At my school we read the adventures of David and Ann. I loved these beautiful children. They did everything right and had such an enjoyable life that when it came time for art class I tried to draw them. I thought if I drew pictures of them having new and different adventures I could create my own stories. It was not to be. I had no talent for art.
I fared a little better with writing. A few years would pass before my sentences contained more than three or four words. A red truck was a red truck and the grass was just plain green. I did try harder with blue, my favorite color. Anne’s dress was a bright, shiny blue. (I had to ask my sister how to spell bright and shiny—she was two years older and knew everything).
Toward the end of grammar school, probably sixth or seventh grade, we each received a sixteen-color box of Crayolas. Goofy kid that I was—I would probably be called a nerd today—I loved those colors. I kept them in my desk at school; the sticky fingers of those little boys at home would never touch those colors. We were learning about Rome and Greece and with my new magic tools I could make their magnificent buildings and Doric columns an appropriate grey. Much as I loved artwork, though, I had to accept that it was not my thing.
I could write descriptions that satisfied me a little more. The Roman columns became slate grey. I also remember reading a story called JUST JENNIFER and describing her hair in my book report as light brown with streaks of darker brown that would appear with a slight shake of her head. Not great writing, but a step up from the red truck.
In high school, we were required to take an art class. A woman who had attained some success as an artist was our teacher. That she had sold some of her work impressed me. We were issued pencils and paints of every imaginable color. Unfortunately, the enhanced art supplies did nothing to improve my skills.
I fared much better at literature and writing. The castles and battles from the pages of Shakespeare fascinated me, and I suffered along with the sad, betrayed heroes and heroines. I was entranced with the works of Jane Austen and the dramatic lives and loves of her characters. I began to observe the styles of the different authors and I tried to incorporate some of their techniques in my own stories. Light brown hair didn’t just turn darker when a young lady moved her head, instead, the glow from the candles flickered over Lady Anne’s hair and her blond tresses became gold. Corny, yes, but it was high school.
In a college writing class, the professor asked only for descriptions. He didn’t want lines and lines of fancy phrases, he challenged us to paint a picture with words. Beautiful women, handsome men, a sunset, he wanted to see the person or scene from our description. He got my attention by saying: “your words are your crayons.”
Here’s one of my early attempts. “Jane Murray stood framed beneath the arch, her thin rigid body swathed in a severe grey dress, her small round face overpowered by blazing dark blue eyes.” It’s not an easy thing to do, and I and my writing are works in progress, but I believe painting a description with words could just possibly be the most satisfying task in the world.
The Carty Sisters Series
- Keeper of Coin
- Keeper of Trust
- Keeper of the Flame