Monday, January 21, 2013

Life & Writing Guide: Harold and the Purple Crayon

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          I loved Harold and, of course, his purple crayon from the first time I read his story written by Crockett Johnson, a wonderful nom de plume for David Johnson Leisk. Not only is the Harold series a delight for children, it's a terrific guidebook for writers.

          In the books, Harold has all kinds of adventures. He travels comfortably in his footed pajamas accompanied by only his purple crayon and imagination.

          Once he chooses what he wants to do, Harold draws his own path. Seen only in profile he is either focused on what he is drawing or looking back at his creations. He decides who or what he wants meet along the way. With help from his crayon, they appear--although there are many surprises along the way.

          In the first book, Harold goes for a moonlit walk. He finds a spot he thinks would be perfect for a forest so he draws a tree. It turns out to be an apple tree. To guard the apples, he draws a draws a dragon that ends up frightening him. As he backs away with his hand shaking, he accidentally draws wavy water and then finds himself in over his head. He saves himself by drawing a boat and sailing until he made land. Finding himself hungry, he draws a picnic. And then...well you can read the rest for yourself.

          His adventures continue with trips to space, the circus, and to a fairyland complete with a king, a witch, a flying carpet, and, of course, a fairy. What an amazing life!

          I love that Harold decides what he wants to do and then does it. When things turn out differently than he plans, he quickly improvises. He never loses his focus. And he always achieves his goals. It made me wish my own purple crayon worked that well.

          Being a writer is the next best thing!

          I can, but don't, wear footed pajamas. With a pen and paper or a computer, I can follow my imagination along a path of my choosing, mostly. (As novelists know, sometimes characters have minds of their own.)

          Writing is more difficult than drawing with a crayon, but just as freeing when you are writing for yourself. (Of course, there has to be a paying job to stay afloat. If it is in the writing field, the assignments will help you improve your skills. If it isn't, use that as motivation to keep writing.)

          His last two qualities are the tough ones for me. I need to work on having absolute focus on my writing projects and career as well as on achieving my goals.

          To keep me focused, I have an oversized purple crayon in a ceramic mug along with my pens. It reminds me of how I truly want to live--writing creatively!

What children's books inspired you?

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