I was a capable reader as a child, yet I still begged my mother to read aloud to me. I would close my eyes and enter a world where I could savour the flavour of music, inhale the aroma of colours or float as easily as a helium balloon. In that world, every house had a way of escape through a secret passage, and enough room to share with a small Swiss bear who loved meringues. I could conjure a landscape of snow-covered mountains, perilous rope bridges spanning treacherous chasms, labyrinthine underground caverns and I had the courage to conquer them all.
In the realms of my imagination, my artistic ability knew no bounds … a state of being that was quickly dispelled in real life by my year eight art teacher. The value she placed on my practical artwork convinced me I had better explore alternative career options. I gave up art and learned to touch-type.
But one day, I discovered the Reader’s Digest’s Towards More Picturesque Speech and a seed of possibility took root.
Words are a wonderful medium to work with. I’ve been collecting and collating them for years. Dictionaries are full of them, a treasure trove of opportunity, aided and abetted by those creative little vegemites who pull new words out of the air (and/or social media) all the time. Those careful and crazy collections of letters supply a never-ending creative palette to play with. One can mix them, spread them, stack them, blend them, rearrange them into endless combinations. I’ve discovered some absolute beauties. From the picturesque to the profound or the absurd, words can paint the most intriguing pictures.
It does take some effort, gathering tools, learning techniques, developing skills. It takes time and dedication to produce any worthwhile work of art. But what a privilege and joy it is to indulge the artistic muse and create more picturesque speech.
(Edited and revised; original version published 13 November 2013 on Christian Writers Downunder)
A World to Explore – Artwork by Catie J Sercombe
Writers are Artists
(Catherine Sercombe © 2011)
Tongue-tested words, selected and ordered,
glued into patterns or crazily paved,
mosaic montage or serpentine path
to step out and search
or sit still and dream—
a world to explore
or snapshot of life.
Tongue-tested words, soothing or seething,
waves at the beach or crabs in the sand,
motion that rocks the cradle of souls
or crashes and churns
soft sand into grit—
a pincer of pain
or pillow to sleep
Tongue-tested words, drifting and floating,
clouds in the sky or scum on a pond,
ethereal beauty or rank saturation
of raw sore emotion
from dark fetid swamp—
truth has its beauty
and ugliness form.
Tongue-tested words, the laughter of children
dancing and singing a rhyme in the sun,
music and mayhem, myst’ry and meaning,
daisies and daydreams
or we’ll all fall down—
sing me some wisdom
and I will be wise.
Tongue-tested words, surreal and confusing,
colours on canvas, flame upon glaze,
unyielding marble till hammer and chisel
chop off the dross
and the sculpture appears—
writers are artists
creating with words.