Feb 2, 2009


by Joyce DiPastena

Some days when I write, I feel like I’m back to finger painting in kindergarten. Sticking my hands in a bowl of paint—or in this case, words, and aimlessly smushing them around on the page. The whole process just feels downright messy. No matter how I try, I can’t manage to stay within the lines or draw forth any sense or shape from my efforts.

Other days, I pick up a wide bristled brush and succeed in painting a few broad strokes to a scene. On these days, a form begins to emerge, blurry around the edges, lacking anything remotely resembling style or elegance, but if the lines are smudged, at least on such days as this, there are lines.

On a really good day, a fine bristled brush appears in my hand. I dip the delicate, tapered tip into my bowl of words and dart clear, sharp images onto the page. This is better than staying within the lines. This is creating the lines…the fine threads of a woman’s hair, the scrolling pattern etched into the hearthstones of the fireplace, the shattering discovery of the true reason one’s fiancé inexplicably abandoned one at the church door. This is a scene so keenly focused in my mind, that every dart of my brush’s point leaves in its wake a finely honed detail.

Last week was a messy, smushing kind of week for me. The kind of week that makes me question whether I still have a single drop of writing talent left in my veins. I find myself facing a new week with considerable trepidation. Will it be another finger painting week, a broad stroke week, or a focused, detailed week? I’d be encouraged just to have some combination of the three. Because as fun as finger painting might have been in kindergarten, I’ll never translate the story in my head by smushing words around forever.


  1. You had a good day when you wrote this blog. I feel smushy right now. My lap top hard drive sizzled right before my eyes, and I am now stuck in our family office trying to write amidst the lack of quiet. Well done Joyce! Cindy

  2. I often feel like I'm wrestling words out of the air and pinning them on the page.

  3. Very cute! Me too. The best days is when everything turns out better than planned and you still have time to do the dishes!

  4. Good analogy. I guess the key is to keep "painting" no matter what kind of writing day or week it is.

  5. Smushed! And mush. That's my creativity level at the moment.

    Steph Anderson

  6. Steph: I'm both sad and glad that I'm not alone!

    Cindy: So sorry your laptop sizzled!

  7. Wow such imagery Joyce, I could really "see" and "hear" your creativity at work.

  8. Joyce, you created beautiful lines with this post! What an image! Fantastic! I love it!...lol...You rock!


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