The cursor blinks at me. Blink-blink-blink. Ignoring it, my eyes are preoccupied with the rectangle of cotton peeking out from the dog pile across the room.
Rotating my head to back to the computer screen, I try to concentrate.
Imagery. IMAGE-ry. The verbal photograph. Poetic description.
The selection of words used to create written texture.
My eyes find their way back to the bed. Pliant, touchable, like the striped pillow sitting king-of-the-hill atop of the decorative throw pillow heap. A good pillow. Mid-weight fabric, but not scratchy. The run-proof, stain-resistant, take-a-beating kind that your face still glides against when you grab it for a ninja nap (Sarahism ©2012). Blissfully squashy, as if hand-packed with cotton balls, neither too firm nor too flimsy. Just right for mid-Sunday stuffs behind my head while watching TV, late night prop-ups of the neck when settling in to start that anticipated new book. Great for elevation of a sprained ankle…
What a good pillow. Who’s it made by again? Waverly.
That's right. Expensive but worth it.
The blinking cursor is more like an impatient tapping foot now. Asking, “Is your tangent over? Care to get this entry finished sometime tonight?”
I let it blink, noting the similarity to my equally blank mind.
How do you describe imagery? You don't. It's too intimidating. Too—big.
Full, vivid. Colorful and illustrated. Crafted in letter box format.
I grab a steno pad and a pen. Maybe I can hash this out Old School-style.
Ten minutes pass: I jot. I scribble. I draw.
Five minutes more and I have a paragraph of bad poetry that reminds my sister of Pink Floyd lyrics. No imagery.
The pen taps on the edge of the paper now, in step with the tyrant cursor. My fingers are quick, my eyelids heavy. The mental egg timer of my brain ticking out the final marks before going off.
A few feet away my bed sits made. Still. Serene. The carefully tucked covers no barrier to the understated siren song drifting up from its cozy center. My head gravitates towards what awaits me. When I fold the corner of layers over, the triangle will reveal an angled line of poufy head pillows, the convex dominoes crowning muted green cotton sheets. Regular sheets, nothing fancy, but organic for certain. Soft as satin, a cushion of heaven against my legs after I’ve shaved. Topped with a ruffled knit throw in case any of the other twenty blankets aren’t enough to keep warm, the frilly edges beckoning me to come rest.
Yes, when I’m done I’m going to burrow in like a groundhog, nestle up to a pillow or four, and then sleep for as long as it pleases me.
That is my reward— as soon as I think of some imagery…
· Imagery doesn't imply the use of flowery words or over-the-top dramatic prose. Powerful description is often made up of simple words. Play with pairings and meanings then see what comes of it.
My favorite line of imagery comes from a college classmate’s poem: “Fetal Pink.”
· I’ve read somewhere that a majority of writers begin their stories with setting imagery. This is a moving way to start, but it’s also a common opener. If you want to rock your editor’s socks, you might want to experiment with your first page. Maybe start with action or a strong line of dialogue, and then use that as a springboard into the imagery.
As my HS journalism teacher used to say, “Reach off the page, grab the reader by the sweatshirt, and pull ‘em in!”
Now—bed. Tomorrow—J is for JOURNAL.
Hope to see you there. Goodnight!