What Harold Taught Me About Writing


If this is your first time on this blog you’re wondering…

“Writing in Color because life is more than black and white”; what does that mean?

I can answer that. But I’d have to tell you about Harold.

Before I do, I’ll ask a question. What was your favorite children’s book when you were little? Perhaps The Cat in the Hat, or Where the Wild things Are?

Mine was Harold and the Purple Crayon.* Sure many other books have influenced my life since then, but this one was one of the first. And yes, my choices in writing and reading have matured, but there is something from this book that remains.

Let me explain.

I liked the book’s creativity in its drawings and its central character. I related to Harold. He was a thinker; it says so in the book’s opening.

“One evening after thinking it over for some time,
Harold decided to take a walk in the moonlight…
…taking his big purple crayon with him.”

Whatever Harold drew came to life. Well into my later years I still looked for that illusive purple crayon; the Crayola that could create a door right when you need one, or draw a horde of pies when you’re hungry, and a moose (and porcupine) to finish them off when you’re too full.

It wasn’t only the idea of a magic crayon that I liked about the book, but it was also the one purple color line that ran through the book, from page to page, drawing something and then zipping away to draw something else. It stood out. That  color line ran through everything and connected it all. It sparked the imagination. That is why it is still in print over 50 years later.

Most important, I remembered it. For years. As my tastes matured I still looked for writing that could draw you into the story, drag you through, and not let go. This is writing in color. Wasn’t The Wizard of Oz more exciting when things changed from black and white to color?

Life is so much moreTangerine-Sunset-over-a-house-roof-2.

Life is tangerine sunsets by the bay, rushing streams filled with rainbow trout, and carnivals selling pink cotton candy. Life is red; a cherry-apple red Corvette, a neon red sign, or a blood-red sky. Life is colored with envy, blinded by brilliance or darkened by cruel words. Blue is either how cold you’re feeling on the outside or how low you’re feeling on the inside.

As adults we may not need pictures in our books, but we still want writing that stays with us after we’re finished – full of vibrant word pictures, animated phrases, and challenging thoughts. In fiction, we look for characters we care about, vivid scenes and endings that don’t let us down. If it is non-fiction, we need to be enlightened, emboldened, or at least educated in some way. We want it to spark the imagination, and color our world with new ideas.

Time is precious, as Og Mandino wrote; “…life is naught but a measurement of time.” As writers we want to respect our reader’s loyalty and their time.

We all want the time we trade for reading to have been worth it. When it is, that’s “Writing in Color.”


*Amazon Aff. Link

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Posted in Blogging, creativity, ideas, Words, Writing
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4 comments on “What Harold Taught Me About Writing
  1. Kara says:

    Like Steve said, the line with that says “we still want writing that stays with us after we’re finished – full of vibrant word pictures, animated phrases, and challenging thoughts” is so true and quite inspiring. Great job 🙂

    • Hi Kara, thanks for your comments. I particularly enjoyed writing the paragraph just before it too-sort of captured the “Writing in Color” idea. I want to look at some more of your art and photos too, as I have the time.

      • Kara says:

        I agree; it does capture that point very well. And I hope you like what you find on my blog 🙂 Please, if you have any suggestions, thoughts, I would love to hear it. I’m always looking to improve.

  2. Great post, Pete! You make an important point: “As adults we may not need pictures in our books, but we still want writing that stays with us after we’re finished.” Something we all need to keep in mind!

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What is Writing?

"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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