Imagine All The Purple

imageI am the poor-deprived middle child and when I was little and my two older sisters refused to play with me, I turned to my two younger sisters. Heh, heh. “Let’s color,” I said, pretending it didn’t really matter what we did. Beezer had just gotten new coloring books. Oh, this was going to be fun. The three of us sat at the kitchen table, as I magnanimously let them choose crayons first. I saw them smile at each other. Fools. Beezer offered me up a princess page. It just didn’t get any better.

“You sure?” I asked her. She giggled and shrugged her little, naive shoulders, looking thrilled to please her big sister. I took my time and watched them get started. “Good job, Jody.”  (Who died and made her captain of the outline police? Hello, future accountant.) It should be noted, Jody is also the one who spit in her “pop” to make sure we wouldn’t try to drink it. That made what was about to happen all the sweeter.

Beezer was scribble-scrabbling away, not staying in the lines, filling in the hair of her girl with a lovely shade of mahogany. The eyes looked like exploding stars of azure, seriously, she couldn’t stay inside a small circle if you paid her. Their biggest crime was that they were younger than me. ‘Twas enough. The time was right. My sisters’ heads were bent over their masterpieces, but their hands stilled. They peeked at me and the crayon box.

I hummed a little as I went in for the purple. They held their breath. I knew what they were thinking. It would be really pretty for the dress. I centered the page and swiped my hand across that delicious manila paper. With even, measured strokes, I colored in the face of the princess. Jody groaned and begged me to stop, then ran to tattle on me. Beezer just cried. I think I went for a lovely teal for the hair.

Why was that so much fun? Granted, I grew up in Ennui, Ohio, where every confession of boredom was met with a can of Comet cleanser, served up by my mom. Was I learning not to take things so seriously? Enjoying a random afternoon of sister bonding? Or maybe, to hijack a reminder from Mark Twain (via my friend Vaughn Roycroft), “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mostly, I was just a brat. 

To purple crayons!

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” —Albert Einstein



The World’s Worst Novelist?

My novel Ros shows up next to Irish author Amanda McKittrick Ros, and her book, Irene Iddesleigh. Ros self-published in 1897, and her reputation as the world’s worst novelist is being remembered at the Celebrate Literary Belfast festival later this month, (Awful Author Addicted to Alliteration Achieves Acclaim Again!).

Amanda McKittrick Ros

This teacher/novelist/poet provided hours of entertainment to fellow writers—an Oxford literary group, which included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, held competitions to see who could read her work the longest without laughing. When a critic sarcastically called it “the book of the century,”  Ros suggested he was so hostile because he was secretly in love with her.

“. . .He found himself, altogether unconsciously, clasping her to his bosom, whilst the ruby rims which so recently proclaimed accusations and innocence met with unearthly sweetness, chasing every fault over the hills of doubt . . .”