Monday 11 November 2013

Writers are Artists by Catherine Sercombe

I was a capable reader as a child yet I still begged my mother to read aloud to me; I would close my eyes and enter a world where I could savour the flavour of music, inhale the aroma of colours or float as easily as a helium balloon. In that world, every house had a way of escape through a secret passage, and enough room to share with a small Swiss bear who loved meringues.  I could conjure a landscape of snow-covered mountains, perilous rope bridges spanning treacherous chasms, labyrinthine underground caverns and I had the courage to conquer them all.  In the realms of my imagination, my artistic ability knew no bounds … a state of being that was quickly dispelled in real life by my year eight art teacher.  The value she placed on my practical art work convinced me I had better explore alternative career options – I gave up art and learned to touch-type.  But one day, I discovered the Reader’s Digest’s Towards More Picturesque Speech and a seed of possibility took root.

Words are a wonderful medium to work with – and they’re free!  I’ve been collecting and collating them for years.  I’ve discovered some absolute beauties.  The dictionary is a treasure-trove.  We writers can mix words together and spread them out, stack them, blend them, rearrange them.  There are endless combinations to explore.  It does take some effort, gathering tools, learning techniques, developing skills.  It takes time and dedication to produce any worthwhile work of art.  But what a privilege and joy it is to indulge the artistic muse and create more picturesque speech.

Writers are Artists – Catherine Sercombe © 2011

Tongue-tested words, selected and ordered, 
glued into patterns or crazily paved,  
mosaic montage or serpentine path    
to step out and search
or sit still and dream –
a world to explore
or snapshot of life.

Tongue-tested words, soothing or seething,
waves at the beach or crabs in the sand,
motion that rocks the cradle of souls
or crashes and churns
soft sand into grit –
a pincer of pain
or pillow to sleep

Tongue-tested words, drifting and floating,
clouds in the sky or scum on a pond,
ethereal beauty or rank saturation
of raw sore emotion
from dark fetid swamp –
truth has its beauty
and ugliness form.

Tongue-tested words, the laughter of children  
dancing and singing a rhyme in the sun,
music and mayhem, myst’ry and meaning,                     
daisies and daydreams
or we’ll all fall down –
sing me some wisdom
and I will be wise.

Tongue-tested words, surreal and confusing,
colours on canvas, flame upon glaze,        
unyielding marble till hammer and chisel
chop off the dross
and the sculpture appears –
writers are artists
creating with words.


Catherine Sercombe is a wife, mother of three, education business manager, tutor and creative writing student who lives in Toowoomba, Qld.  Described in Christmas Tales from the Upper Room (2012, Pantaenus Press) as ‘a creative and talented writer whose work reflects an infectious love of language’, Cathie says, ‘From A to Z, surely the best writing begins and ends in God.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1-2). That’s an epidemic worth spreading.’  


  1. Hi Cathie - Thanks for sharing some of your creative journey. You've painted a beautiful word picture and given a brilliant demonstration of how creativity can be unleashed through words. I'm sure you'll help to plant more of those seeds of creativity in others. God bless.

    1. Thanks Nola. As always you are a great encourager! It is always a joy to discover fertile ground for those creative seeds, and to see others take up the baton.

  2. Thanks, Catherine. I love the way you have played with words and turned them this way and that in your poem in particular. And that's a good reminder on this dull Monday morning here in Sydney as I begin my writing for the day that 'writers are artists'.

    1. Thanks Jo-Anne - hope your day was brightened and inspired by the creative muse.

  3. Hi Cathie. "writers are artists, creating with words" which you certainly did with all the vivid word images in your poem. Words create worlds and have the power of harm and healing. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. You are so right, Jeanette - the words we hear as children have the power to shape our lives, for good and for bad, and we become no less vulnerable to that power as we get older. Realizing that we have such powerful weapons at our disposal, it behooves us all to use them judiciously and positively.

  4. Hi Cathie,
    I completely agree. I love the concept of painting with words. That poem has many brush strokes.

    1. Thanks Paula. I think the connection between language and image has always been strong - people recorded their stories and lives in images before developing written script, and many early manuscripts were highly decorated with images as well. Surely our Creator has planted the desire to communicate in a beautiful way into our psyche as a reflection of Him.

  5. Wow Cathie. Great painting and great brush strokes as Paula pointed out. You HAVE to be a writer and an artist! I am very impressed at all the vivid imagery you conjur up. Beautiful work.

    1. Thanks Anusha. It is wonderful encouragers like you that persuade me to press on and in to develop the craft!

  6. Hi Cathie, I too love the joy and privilege I find in playing with words to create something to bless others. You have painted a beautiful picture in your post - thankyou for sharing.

    1. Thanks Lesley. I bet you have a striking collection of words to play with as well!

  7. I love your poem. The use of words is spectacular.

    1. Thanks Elaine. Glad it brought you some pleasure.

  8. Loved your post and your poem

    1. Thanks Dale for taking the time to read it and respond. :)

  9. Hi Cathy. Your post is both challenging and inspiring. We search for the right word as the artist mixes colours. Thanks for showing us your painting.