“Often when I write I am trying to make words do the work of line and colour. I have the painter’s sensitivity to light. Much (and perhaps the best) of my work is verbal painting.”
- Elizabeth Brown
The late, great John Updike once said he’d write about anything, even the pencils lying on his desk. Makes me think of an artist’s doodling, sketching the world around her for the satisfaction of committing the image to paper in a certain way. Doing so fulfills a creative need to sort out a thing, tell a story.
Why not sketch the pencils with words?
How is the light falling on them, indicating time of day? What was the last thing written using them, and why that and not something else? Are the ends of them pocked with teeth marks? Were they tossed aside and left to roll off the desk, or laid down side by side with care? Whose pencils are they, and why are they lying there?
It’s not unlike some of the writing exercises I’ve done over the years to kick-start a story. Matter of fact I think I’ll go and doodle about pencils right now.
But first I’ll shove the knitting needles out of the way.
And then I’ll re-read Elizabeth Bishop’s hilarious and insightful essay, The USA School of Writing. The first time through, I laughed so hard I jumped over words.
And then I’ll get doodling.