The Girl in the Picture

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

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 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.