Butterfly Briefs

Butterfly Brief # 10 Writing With Imagery
7/28/2018 11:24:00 AM by: Leona Choy

Most of the writers in my orbit of coaching and sharing resources are “creative” writers to differentiate them from journalists, business writers and the like.

The hallmark of all creative writing, not just poetry, is imagery, the use of metaphors, similes, analogy and other figures of speech—painting mental pictures in virtual vivid colors, not in prosaic, pedestrian black and white.

I call it writing with a flourish. Journalism, for instance, must by its nature stick to the plain vanilla facts and major in being concise and frugal with its adjectives and adverbs.

I offer you the example below by permission from an author I've just discovered but whose writing, like a deep well I want to dip into with a large cup as often as I can and enjoy the cool refreshment of her imagery. She calls this blog post “Open My Ears That I May Hear,” a phrase from a classic hymn.

Take a highlighter and for a writing exercise underscore her delicious imagery. Delight in the full sensory you are there experience!


“This morning I woke up in a cloud of birdsong. It was 5 a.m., already light out, and the air was filled with otherworldly music. I went downstairs, poured my tea, opened all the doors and windows, and sat for a while. The robins, orioles, finches, and who knows what else poured their sparkling soundscape into me, into my home. So much chirping! The twitters seemed to resonate and carry, as though early morning acoustics were different from other times. All together, the sound felt round. It encompassed the city like a mystical, golden secret. I listened, and the chorus erased me.

“I say “otherworldly” but these are the same birds that peck my strawberries and nest in the English ivy and leave streaks of white shit on the windows of my car; they’re very this-worldly, and to describe them otherwise puts a wedge between divinity and creation. The songbirds bless us. The ordinary house sparrows chip-chip-chipping into the air are the soundtrack for domestic life around the globe. The chickadee-dee-dee might as well be my mother singing it’s so dear. The cardinal’s frantic pulse is a car alarm turned holy. The robin’s sing-song always reminds me of the squeaky chains on the swing sets of my childhood, and seagulls will always be the sound of summer, even here in Minnesota. The weird monkey-call of the pileated woodpecker conflates time and space.

“We don’t hear the birds until we do. Sometimes I sleep through the concert; most times I sleep through it even when I’m awake. This morning I heard. Who knows why? Maybe the fact that I heard is what’s otherworldly—the real miracle. Awareness changes a dull gray sleepy morning into mystical immersion. I want my ears always opened to this constellation of sound. I want always to become more aware. This is why I pray.”

–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew    www.spiritualmemoir.com.

Try it, emulate it—you'll like it and so will your readers!


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