“It takes so little to make me happy.”
I spoke those words to my husband as I gathered my Staples’ purchase in my arms. What had I bought? A new laptop? A new laser printer? A subwoofer? A new datebook with tabs for each month? Ah, no. Something so much more simple and inexpensive.
Gel pens. Colored gel pens. In five amazing colors. In a final thrust of extravagance, I grabbed two dry erase pens that I discovered I could buy piecemeal instead of five in a box. Only $1.54 apiece! In the decadent colors of brown and purple, no less. No standard red, blue, and black for me.
I love colored pens, do you? I use green in my journal because green is my favorite color. I use purple in my datebook because it coordinates with the cover. Different colors on my dry erase board help me categorize. I’ll jot story plot ideas with green and write out my to-do list with black. When I accomplish a task, I cross it out with a big flourish of red. Color adds variety, distinction and beauty to a predictable, dull and routine world. Selecting a color to match my thoughts or my character is like creativity calisthenics—it stretches my mental muscles for the work I have planned for the rest of my morning.
I’m using my new pens to color my way through my latest novel. I’d put this contemporary romantic suspense on hold for a year to do other things and because, well, I guess I just wasn’t ready to write it. I didn’t know my characters well enough. I knew my beginning and my end but the middle eluded me. I kept asking my family, “Who is the killer?” I think they began to wonder about my sanity. But the lines of my coloring page are growing more distinct and I’m starting to fill in the details with vibrancy. I’m already up to Chapter Ten and working steadily. Yesterday I wrote a dark chapter, but just like in a picture, each book has darker sections to offset the more brilliant colors.
Three writer friends and I are talking about a collaboration, a collection of four historical novellas set in . . . oh wait a minute! What am I doing? I’m not gonna spill the beans!
Anyway, I’m excited about this project because it connects with my family roots. It’s made me think about family ties and it’s opening up dialogue between my mother and me. My mother has the beginning stages of dementia and I was delighted the other day when drops of family history started to trickle forth. Writing always has side benefits.
Color reminds me of God’s creativity. He designed the entire spectrum of color that no box of Crayola could ever begin to hold. While I’m not comfortable with the language she used, I love the message that Shug Avery tried to convey to Celie in the movie, The Color Purple. God loves the color purple. He created it. He thinks it’s fantastic. The hidden message was that God values each of us too. He thinks each of us is as amazing as the color purple.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.” – John 3:1
Okay, writer friends, what do you do to loosen up your creativity?