Here in my hometown of Montclair, NJ, spring has burst into full bloom almost overnight. Forsythia bushes, dogwood trees, azaleas – all bright and beautiful in their yellow, pink, white, scarlet and magenta party dresses. Lovely!
On a morning walk one day, a silent flurry of cherry blossom petals drifted down to a soft green lawn. Pink snow! I thought to myself, pleased with this image. A few days later, I shared this vision with my friend and fabulous writer Martha Moffett, who quickly replied,”Oh, I always think of them as babies’ fingernails.” What a fantastic image – way more inventive than mine!
Soon after, I heard a wonderful poet, Stan Marcus, read a wonderful poem of his at a Write Group open mike which described air so thick that you could hammer a nail into it and hang a coat on it – fantastic! Creative images like these are among the most precious tools we have as writers. They allow us to transform the world through words for our readers – and encourage them to see it with fresh eyes.
When I think of transforming the world around us through bright, shining images, the adorable Anne of Anne of Green Gables springs to mind. What a way she had with words! It’s the very heart of her character – it’s what makes her so unique and memorable a literary creation. Again and again, L. M. Montgomery delights in sharing this gift of Anne’s and in doing so, she shows us the power of words to summon beauty and wonder. Here’s a glimpse:
When Anne is being driven to her new home, Green Gables, she asks Matthew, a man of few words, what the name of a grove of trees they’ve just passed through is. He replies, “the Avenue.” Anne instantly protests this boring name:
“But they shouldn’t call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that. They should call it – let me see – the White Way of Delight. Isn’t that a nice imaginative name? When I don’t like the name of a place or a person I always imagine a new one…”
Further down the road they come to what’s called “Barry’s pond” and Anne says, “I don’t like that name either. I shall call it – let me see – the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly, it gives me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?”
Like Anne, we’ve all felt the thrill at one time or another of finding a name or an image that “suits exactly.” It’s one of the pleasures of plying our craft, isn’t it? So let’s write dangerously! Let’s be inventive! Let’s transform and enliven as we all write on!
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