This morning I awoke with a story coming on. I could feel that itch in my brain starting to build, but I tried to shove it away. I lay in my bed, all cozy under the comforter, thinking how nice it would be to drift back to sleep, but that thought was shoved aside by thoughts of crayons; not just any crayons, but specifically Crayola™ crayons, the kind I used to get each year when it was time to buy school supplies.
Giving in to the inevitable, I lay there thinking about Crayolas™, and the first sensation that came to mind was smell. Every time I think of crayons, or colors as I generally referred to them when I was a kid, I can literally smell the petrochemical scent of paraffin and pigment. No matter how old or used the box of crayons, that scent remained as strong as the day they were made. I remembered the thrill of opening a brand new box and the delight of drawing fine, crisp outlines with the sharp tip of a new crayon with its entire paper wrapping intact. I thought of bearing down hard with a rounded, worn tip to get rich, intense color, and how that heavy coating of wax would flake off and stain my hands, making them feel funny. I thought of the waxy feel of the worn sticks and the colors on the paper. I thought of the glee of pouring those worn stubs into an old shoe box when I got new ones.
I thought about other aspects of crayons, along with coloring books, realizing in third grade that I couldn’t draw as beautifully as a couple of the other girls, and related memories. That took me to making inkblots between workbook pages when we graduated to fountain pens in third grade, and art class and poster paints, and fifth grade with lantern slides and….
Then my mind drifted to the matter of composing my story. How would I write about Crayolas™? Scent, colors, box, waxy feel, things I did with them, memories of using them, my feelings about drawing, story structure, how to begin, how to end . . . . Glancing at the clock I realized I’d been pondering Crayolas nearly half an hour. My pulse had risen, my mind was racing, and clearly I was not going to drift back to sleep. This story bug was virulent and too developed to ignore. The only cure was to sit down at my computer and do a brain dump. What you are reading is that dump, and now I can move on to other matters.
Do you ever feel a story coming on? What do you do about that? And how do you write about scents and the feel of waxy sticks in your fingers, and colors, subtle or screaming?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal