Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Girl in the Picture


Some things are keepsakes that can't be gotten rid of even though they have no real value other than sentimental attachment. This picture is one of those things here at my mother's house that my sisters and I would never be able to throw away. When we were children, the picture hung in the corner of our aunt's living room. It was painted by my great aunt, Herve, who had a flair for creativity. She had a rock garden in her backyard that was a wonder, and when she decided she needed new flooring in her house, she simply painted her old linoleum gray and then dotted it with a variety of bright colors.  

I don't know when she painted this picture, but it was my aunt's house. Aunt Herve added plenty of personal touches, including my aunt's cats and dogs. She carefully planted the flowers in her picture the same as they were in the yard, if perhaps coloring them a bit brighter. She added plenty of bright birds too. Then there's the pasted on picture of the girl holding a cat. I always imagined I was the girl in the picture, but it most likely represented my older sister since I can't remember when the picture was painted and given to my aunt. But I wanted to be the cute little girl in the picture and so I imagined I was. 

Maybe that was the beginning of me putting myself in a story. That's a question I often get about my writing. How much of this or that character is me? Since I did use my hometown background in my Hollyhill books, readers ask if Jocie is me. And the answer is no. And yes. She isn't me, but she's the girl I imagine I am in the story. A writer has to get inside the skin of her characters, especially her viewpoint characters. And while I have several viewpoint characters in Scent of Lilacs, Jocie is the beginning character, the one the story rotates around. Things happen to her that never happened to me. She does things I would have never had the nerve to do. She is not me. But in a way, I am the girl in the story the way I was the girl in the picture. How? Imagination. 

Actually most of us are the girl in the story or the guy in the story when we're reading. That's why reading is such fun. We live their stories without getting all the bumps and bruises. We laugh with them and cry with them and share their adventures right in the safety of our favorite reading spots. I'm hoping some of you will imagine you are Jocie in Scent of Lilacs when the book is available again in March. Before that, I hope you'll drop by Jocie's blog to get to know the people of Hollyhill. Jocie or one of her friends will be sharing something every Monday for a while. Just click on the tab up at the top of this post or go to www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com. Remember too, if you leave a comment on either this blog or Jocie's blog before March 1, you'll be entered in a blog only giveaway for an autographed copy of Scent of Lilacs. I'll draw three winners and each time you comment, you'll get a new entry. Then maybe you'll be reading and imagining you're the girl in the story.

Thanks so much for reading my journal too.

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this pic and your story of it and your wish to be the little girl there. you are so right about being in the stories we read. I have been many places and done some brave things I would never attempt to do on my own just by reading good stories.
    so enjoyed your post today and reminds me of family-the good-the bad and the ugly all family....
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. Thanks, Paula. Always fun to read your comments. I've had so much fun reading and traveling to different eras and following the characters' adventure. So glad for books.

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  2. You do get lost in the characters when you are reading a book. There have been a lot of stories I have read that I wish I was experiencing what they were going through. That's what makes a good book. Shaun srpaulsen3@gmail.com

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    1. Shaun, thanks for chiming in. Some of the characters' experiences I might wish I was having, but some of the suspense I prefer to experience only in my imagination. :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading your post this morning.
    Katie J.
    johnsonk133[at]yahoo[dot]com

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    1. Thanks, Katie. I'm glad you enjoyed my girl in the picture. So happy you left a comment to get your name in the drawing.

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  4. When I was young my Mom and Dad had an arial picture painted of our home. I used to wish I had been capture playing in the front yard but it was just our home. I thought that was so cool to have an actual painting. Love the picture you wrote about. I can definitely see how you, as a little girl, put yourself in the picture. Thanks so much for sharing and bringing back one of my good memories.

    Wanda Barefoot

    flghtlss1(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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    1. That would have been neat, Wanda. You could have been waving at the airplane.;) So glad you joined in the conversation. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to bring up some of the best memories.

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  5. That is a very pretty picture, I like the colorful bushes and other nice touches. What is that red above the chimney? My small computer won't let me make it out.

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    1. That's a red bird. Meant to be a cardinal I suppose, Loretta. Aunt Herve wasn't the best at proportion. Glad you like the old picture.

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  6. Ann, I loved your story regarding your aunt's picture and how she created it, and the floor painting. I think I would have enjoyed knowing this special lady. She sounds very creative and quirky, probably with a "mind of her own." I love stories like this where we can imagine what people must have been thinking when they created something like your picture. Thanks for the smiles!
    Nancee

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    1. At the time I was visiting her house, I was very young and shy so I'm sure I missed out on a lot of the fun I could have had with Aunt Herve. I can look back and see her uniqueness better now than I could then. Isn't that the way of it, Nancee? As kids we can't see past our own game at the time.

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  7. Hi Ann, Little girls do have BIG imaginations. I remember a picture of a red-haired girl my daddy brought home framed and hung over the tv. I didn't like her 'cause I had it in my head that my daddy liked her better...why else would he hang a picture of her. Don't know what happened to the picture but that precious daddy has been in Heaven for 39 years yesterday and I miss him. Now I realize how silly I was and hopefully, he never knew! Always love reading your blog. Have a blessed week!

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    1. That's a funny story, Linda, but I guess it wasn't making you smile then. As kids we can get the strangest ideas in our heads and they seem perfectly sensible at the time. But you were the little girl he was taking care of and loving and that's why you have good memories of him now. How do you feel about redheads these days? :)Always great to hear from you here.

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  8. Ann,
    Thank you so much for sharing the story of this beloved painting. It is gorgeous! I have several things that I wouldn't take any amount of money for....but they are not worth any money at all. One of those things is the baby doll my mamaw got for Christmas as a child. It is a 3 inch carved wooden stick figure doll. It was carved by my great grandmother. That was her gift that year for Christmas...along with an apple and a piece of candy in her stocking. She dressed her doll by cutting dresses out of the Sears catalog and folding them over the body of her doll. I cherish it since both my mamaw Draxie and my mamaw Little have both gone to Heaven.

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    1. What a great keepsake and memory, Mandy! Back in your grandmother's time, toys weren't so easy to come by, but sounds as if she very much appreciated the doll made with hands of love. And now it's held in hands of love as you remember them. I'm so glad you shared your keepsake story.

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  9. Ann, I love these kinds of things saved from the past. It'a neat picture. I once had a precious gift from a great aunt. It was a beautiful Lady doll to lay on the bed. She was the most beautiful doll. She has red hair fixed real fancy like you see in some of the books of Eras past with the big Manor homes. She wore a long, green satin dress. A tall slim lady with high heels. I was about 8 or 9 years old. It had been sent to me because my great aunt and her granddaughter had been affixiated in their home on a cold winter day. But, when I was 12 we had to move to OK. and had to store everything till coming for it later. Well, someone stole some of our stuff and that was one. It would be worth very much money by now, but more important than money to me. In our family there are some pretty, old pictures that were embroidered and framed. Maxie

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    1. Maxie, too bad the doll was stolen. You would get a lot of pleasure from having it displayed in your house now. Next best thing is a cherished memory and nobody can steal that from you. Our family has some embroidered framed pictures too. My aunt was talented with her needle, but I never really enjoyed needlework although I made a lot of my clothes and my kids' clothes when they were young. Now I wonder how I had time to do all that and occasionally write a story or two as well. Guess I was way younger then. :)

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  10. The Girl in the picture& your story of you thinking she was you sounds like a good story.I am sure the Scents Of Lilacs is very good.I have not read it & very much would like too.Please enter me in the give away.Thanks.
    Elizabeth Dent
    lizd225(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. I hope you get a chance to read Jocie's story. The Hollyhill stories are very different from the Shaker stories, but my readers like to head down new adventures in reading sometimes.

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  11. I am sure the little girl in the painting is you ~ or your sister ~ dark-haired little girls; depending on which little dark-haired girl is looking at it at the time.
    The clue is in the cat "the pasted on picture of the girl holding a cat" ~ which one of you might it have been?
    The painting brings a smile to my face just thinking about the cool breeze and the ease.

    I always liked "Heidi" for the same reason as a visualizing reader. Scent of Lilacs sounds like what I would identify with too. Kathleen
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. Ah, Kathleen, you have hit on the clue that as a child I did not want to notice. The cat. My older sister is a cat lover. I like cats okay, and played with them when I was a kid, it was dogs that stole my heart. So another reason I think the little girl represented my sister instead of me. But the imagination can put us in the picture whether we really are or not.

      I like your thinking about the cool breeze and the ease. Now all we need is a spot in the sun, a tall glass of iced tea and a good book. I do hope you'll like Scent of Lilacs if you get a chance to read it.

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Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.