Sunsets and Sidewalk Chalk

I had my blog post for today all planned out. I discovered earlier this week that one of my favorite authors had a new book released in the U.S. a few weeks ago. Jaclyn Moriarty – another Australian YA author – started a new trilogy with the book A Corner of White. It’s a braided novel which switches between two worlds – Cambridge, England and the Kingdom of Cello – and promises to deliver Moriarty’s signature whimsical style. I bought it for my Kindle last night, and planned to finish it up today and write up a review.

But this afternoon, a shocking thing happened: I didn’t feel like reading. It’s one thing for me to not feel like reading when I have no good books up my sleeve. It’s another thing entirely when I have a thus-far enjoyable book by an author I know to be excellent. I blame the weather. It was gorgeous out today, warm and breezy. I saw people playing Frisbee and catch, heard them playing volleyball (the volleyball crowd was very loud) and I just couldn’t do it. Also, although I intend to keep this blog running, this is my last required post for my creative non-fiction class. I wanted to do something different from a usual review.

So I broke out the sidewalk chalk I got in my Easter basket this year. I took it outside with my camera. I doodled and wrote, looked at the lake, and mostly thought. I thought about how on Earth I was supposed to connect sidewalk chalk to reading. I mainly was reminded of something writer/dancer/papercutting artist Kimi Eisele said when she came to one of my classes as a guest lecturer last semester. She talked about the importance of having some kind of second genre or medium for “play.”

At the time, I mostly thought of it in regard to myself as a writer. Writing, for all that it’s a wonderful form of creative expression, can be and often is hard work. It seems like maybe I should start thinking of that in terms of reading, too. Reading is an activity that’s always come easily to me, and that I’ve always loved. But since starting this blog and taking several creative writing workshop classes, it’s sometimes hard to read with my writer mind off. I pay more attention to the choice of verb tense and the consistency of characters’ voices. Not to say I don’t still get completely immersed in what I’m reading, but there’s always questions the back of my mind – “What would I write about this?” or “Does that point-of-view shift contribute anything to the story?”

So I guess at the end of the day, writing and reading, as much as I love them, can also be pretty taxing. So I decided to expand my creative horizons a little, step out of my comfort zone. Despite my compulsive doodling habits, I’m no artist. But I do enjoy drawing things from time to time, and there’s something so alluring about sidewalk chalk. Maybe it’s that instead of writing at a computer or doodling in a notebook, whatever you do is immediately out there in the world, instantly available for others’ scrutiny. While I was drawing out there today, I was half-embarrassed, almost ashamed to be caught in the act of creating in public, especially something that wasn’t “good.”

I kept at it though, until my hands (and camera bag) were covered in chalk and the little pieces of gravel seemed permanently embedded in my knees. I came out with a few new poem ideas, remembered a few books I’d forgotten about, and got a chance to see one more Oswego sunset. I raced over to the banks of the lake to snap a few shots of the sun, as it slid right out of the sky. Once it starts going down, it goes down fast. I enjoyed my afternoon of play and some of the ideas it gave me for new writing and reading projects.

One of the books I thought about while I out there I’ve browsed but haven’t gotten a chance to “use” yet. It’s called Turkish Delight & Treasure Hunts, and includes provides and activities from classic childhood books. It includes recipes for “Tempting Turkish Delight” and “Brucie Bogtrotter’s Heroic Chocolate Cake” and directions for making a “liberally garlanded hat,” as Anne Shirley does in Anne of Green Gables. It’s half practical, half humorous. It’s a good reminder that aside from being fun companions while you read them, books are also a fun place to look for inspiration for something to do when you don’t feel like curling up with them.

A Corner of White
Turkish Delight & Treasure Hunts

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Sunsets and Sidewalk Chalk

  1. Donna Steiner

    I love this post, love the reference to Kimi Eisele, and love the final photograph.

  2. Kimi Eisele

    This is delightful! So glad I found it. I love your chalk doodles!

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