Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Still hot
After writing about words for three days, I’ve realized that the hardest writing may be description–not dialogue–because description is more visual. It calls for painting pictures with words, and that’s really difficult to do well. It’s hard to evoke the feelings derived from texture, smell and color.
This summer in Nashville we have the most spectacular exhibit of colorful glass sculpture by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly. From the 30-foot tall, massive golden glass spiral at the entrance to the glass balls in the Japanese sand garden to the blue glass crane shapes in the reflecting pool, and on and on, everywhere you look there is one or more entrancing pieces of beautifully colored blown glass. As I listened to the exhibit chief talk about the installation, I was struck by how low-key and plain-spoken he was. Then I realized that he knew the exhibit would speak for itself as it was viewed. Words can’t do it justice.
I make no secret of the fact that my favorite book format is the picture book, that careful design of few words and colorful pictures to convey meaning to young children. Yes, the color printing process makes picture books more expensive to publish and the number of picture books being produced in the last few years has diminished. But when a richly colored book such as this year’s Caldecott Award winner, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, hits the market, we know it’s worth sharing for years to come.
Editors and critics often mention the “color” of an author’s work even though no visual element is involved. I think they are referring to a particular vividness of imagery. Most writers do have a mental picture of their protagonists, and it’s often a help if the author keeps close at hand photos or paintings of the setting where the narrative takes place. That way a writer might produce more colorful words, not bogging the manuscript down with description. It’s a tough act to write a colorful piece with only words.
Who are some of your favorite “colorful” authors?