Friday, May 25, 2012

Writing in Color

By Kim

After hearing feedback from several people that The Oak Lovers is reserved, even quiet in tone, I have come to see my manuscript as the sketch before a painting. The lines are all there and I see the finished canvas clearly in my mind, much as my great-grandfather had before he reached for his brush. To borrow his words, “I know what I want and how to get it now.”

The “how” involves stepping away from my computer. I’m working by hand now, scribbling notes, crossing them out, and scribbling more. I have arrows and circles and big black X marks. Tiny and nearly illegible handwriting fills the white spaces in the margins, between paragraphs, sometimes between lines. The prose is imperfect and raw, and I don’t give a damn that I started two sentences in a row with the word ‘she’ or that I used ‘was’ instead of a fancier word.

Writing, like painting, has become a sensual act. Messy and exhilarating.

I have become the woman in this photograph that my mother created for me. Carl and Madonna’s spirits are with me all the time. I don’t want to know just their story anymore. I want to feel Madonna’s jealousy as she watched Carl return home to his wife. I want to write it in a crimson splash across the page. Their reunion is a sunburst of yellow. Carl’s constant physical suffering outlines everything in black, but dabs of cobalt blue joy always shine through.

Photo by Deborah Downes

The words have never flowed so easily.


  1. Wow, Kim. What a magnificent post. For me, writing on the computer makes the act very "black and white", as if there is a right or wrong. The red and green squiggles in Word add color, but color I dread since it means I have made a mistake. To "write in color", I have to put pen in hand. Something about the ink spilling on the page, staining my fingers, unleashes the story inside me. I love this: "I want to write it in a crimson splash across the page." Beautiful colors abound!

  2. I love this analogy, Kim. Keep splashing that color on the canvass. I rooting for you! (Love your mom's photo image, too.)

  3. Oops, 'canvas' not 'canvass.'

  4. Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for stopping by, and I agree. The ink on my fingers seems to be helping a lot. There's a lot more intimacy involved when you actually hold the paper and pen, I think.


    I love that photo, too. I was with her when she took the original and I almost cried when she handed me the enhanced version. You've already seen the 'sketch' version. I look forward showing you the 'painting.'

  5. Oh it's beautiful! I feel the need also to get away from this computer to parks, to the river, to museums... I went outside and watched the sky when writing Claude and Camille. Thanks you and to your mom!!

  6. Stephanie,

    The other day I took my manuscript and went to a local cemetery. I wanted to edit The Oak Lovers while sitting beside a pair of actual oak lovers. I found the tree a couple of years back and that's the spot I always go to when I need to think.

    I'm glad you liked the post!

    I can't wait to show you what I've done with the novel.

  7. And now that I've taken in about half of your completed canvas, I can say wholeheartedly you've created a work of art that's worthy of hanging in a national gallery if it were in fact a painting. I'm picturing your muses clapping and crying. So happy for you. Also happy you love this photo:)


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