>Violet Flowers and Violet Eyes

>My husband, Dave, took this picture of Libby and me last evening in front of the clematis that is beginning to bloom on the south side of our front porch.

I can take no credit for its beauty. I do nothing special during it’s growing season and I have only once cut back dead branches. In spite of my relative neglect, it keeps blooming year after year with beautiful violet flowers.

The word “violet” as an adjective is one I have consistently avoided since my youngest years, but that’s really the best descriptor for these flowers’ color.

Look at the picture. Isn’t “violet” the best color name for those flowers? They aren’t really “blue” and they aren’t really “purple”; they’re “violet.”

The reason I’ve avoided “violet” is because one of the earliest stories I ever wrote (it was probably the summer when I was between first and second grade) had a beautiful heroine as the main character. I wanted to make her special; I didn’t want her to have boring brown or blue eyes, so I gave her violet eyes.

My sister began to read the story, but didn’t get past the description of her eyes.

“Violet eyes!” she laughed. “She has violet eyes!”

I didn’t write things down on paper for a long time. I didn’t want to risk anyone seeing them and making fun of me again. But it seems as if most of my time in grade school was spent staring out windows and writing dialogue in my mind.

When my high school English instructor showed the class pictures and told us to write a story based on one of them, I was thrilled. This was my chance to finally write something on paper again!

Looking at the picture of a young man walking through swirling snow outside a small house, I quickly imagined an entire scenario. This young man had made a bad decision. He had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and had been coerced into an unwise marriage. Now he was stuck with a shrewish wife and a fussy newborn.

The story described the baby crying in the background to set the scene. Then it recorded his thoughts about the argument with his wife, which had driven him from the house into the snowstorm.

“Not another one,” his thoughts began, but that’s as far as the instructor got when he read it aloud. The whole class erupted into laughter. They thought “another one” referred to another baby and for some reason found that hilarious. The stories were being read anonymously and I admit that I laughed along with the class because I didn’t want anyone to know it was my story.

I didn’t write anything for a very long time.

Yesterday I read from the first novel in my “Matthew” series to fifthgraders at Pella Christian Grade School. They were interested. They listened intently and laughed at appropriate times. They asked great questions afterward, like:

“How much does the book cost?”

“Did you make all that up or is it real?”

“Can you tell us what’s the matter with the mom?”

I guess it’s not terribly surprising that I was a bit nervous about reading my novel to a potentially critical audience. But it’s time to get past my phobias and be more confident about sharing my writing.

And it’s time to use “violet” whenever that’s the best word.


4 thoughts on “>Violet Flowers and Violet Eyes

  1. >one of the reasons you are the writer and I'm not, is that I was in EIGHTH grade and got stuck on using the word "azure." I think I just liked the way it sounded!

  2. >"Azure" just sort of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? It's such a cool word. Too bad people don't appreciate unique words more so writers would feel free to use them more often!

  3. >Congratulations, Glenda, on bravely taking up your pen again. Early criticisms can strike a child so deeply. Were you pleased with the story you wrote in high school? It sounded like a good beginning.

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