Creative Writing vs. Stating the Facts
Trying to Teach My Son the Difference
I recently found this piece of writing I did over ten years ago. My son was writing an English assignment for school about this amazing sunset we witnessed on a drive. His story went something along the lines of, “It was the coolest sunset I ever saw with lots of bright colors and big clouds.” (It was longer than a sentence, but you get the point.) I told him he should try to be more creative and rework it using adjectives and feelings to describe it so that someone else could imagine seeing it.
He responded to me, “No Mom, I’m good, I like it, I think it’s finished.”, so I wrote this to show him what I was talking about. "It may have been a night in January, but it didn’t feel like it one bit. We were driving down to Princeton to attend a drum circle with our son. It was a crystal clear night and the temperature was unseasonably warm. The evening’s sky became the most beautiful canvas of color and texture I had ever seen. The old masters would have been in awe. The colors of the sky were indescribable. As the sun started to go down glowing swirls of bright cream and ivory streamed through the low dark clouds. The colors began changing to soft shades of pink and orange that looked like the colors of a slightly unripe peach and the amazing clouds added large and small fluffy white forms. The linear white streaks criss-crossing the sky from airplanes looked as if the pilots had been playing tic-tac-toe.
As the soft winds became a little stronger, the clouds started moving more intensely and the large cotton candy like puffs now had underbellies of vibrant pinks, lavenders and blues. What made the sky even more incredible was seeing it through the landscape as the sun went down. As it became darker the trees became silhouettes of thick and thin spider web meshes along the horizon. The sky turned into an electric highway of lava-like rivers streaming into and around the clouds and the colors reflected off large office building windows resembling mirrors of fire. The whole sky was so bright and vivid, even I as an artist and painter myself, could not imagine ever reproducing them on a canvas and no photograph could ever do them justice.
As the sunset ended and the colors began to fade into the horizon, they transformed into electric blues and violets ranging from cerulean to ultramarine. And then, just like that, it was gone. If you walked outside at that moment, you would have had no idea what you missed, there were no traces of it left in the sky. I’ve seen many sunsets before in my lifetime, the ones where the actual sun going down along the horizon was the focal point. Tonight I never saw the sun at all, but the colors above us created by that molten ball of fire in the universe were the most beautiful I had ever seen in my life." When my son finished reading my version, he was like, “Wow Mom that was awesome. It really explained what we saw in the sky.” Then as he walked upstairs he turned and said to me, “Thanks, but I’m going to leave mine alone, it’s fine.”