Recently a sweet but slightly delusional friend of mine suggested that I teach a workshop on word pictures. I laughed. She said she was serious. I laughed like a talk show host with a dud guest.

“I don’t really know how I come up with word pictures,” I told her. “How could I possibly teach someone else what I don’t know myself?”

But in the following weeks the notion kept surfacing. I tried to reel in the flopping idea only to lose it once again to the depths of my murky subconscious.

Finally, when I’d given up fishing for inspiration, it landed in my boat all shiny and slick. The only problem? Well, it was a Minnow of an idea. Not some big, impressive Marlin leaping from the ocean with power and grace.

With a smirk, I told my friend I’d discovered the evolution of my word pictures.

“Great,” she said, “I’ll get on the phone and set up a workshop.”

I snickered. “Don’t you want to hear my brilliant idea first?”


“Okay.” I gave her a classic you-asked-for-it grimace. “You think about the object, emotion, or action you want to describe. You get it squarely in your head.”

“Uh huh.”

“The first thing that comes into your mind is a cliché.”

“Uh huh.”

“Don’t use that.”

At this point I deserved a smack, but my friend—who is Wal-Mart truck loads nicer than me—simply said, “You’re going to have to come up with a little more than that.”

Awhile later, we went out to dinner and she helped me brainstorm my “workshop.” It’s still in progress. It doesn’t even get to wear a “Coming Soon” banner. But, eventually, I hope to have something to share—maybe on the order of a rainbow trout—a teaching model that’s interesting, digestible, and beneficial.