A writer paints with words. Words express the colors and shapes that place the story in its context. They illuminate the bright places and obscure the shadows. They communicate the joy as well as the pain. They sketch the exterior of characters and expose their inner composition.

A writer observes the world and works to reproduce it on the page. At first they may mimic their favorite writers for they are also avid readers. But just as painters attempt to reproduce the masters and yet so often fall short, writers too attempt to reproduce the great writers and also initially fall short.

And yet both writers and painters eventually find their style, that which makes their creation unique. And when they do, it doesn’t matter what the topic that they portray is, it is transformed into their own. This comes with persistence and practice. It comes with determination and inner confidence. It shines for all the world to see.

Flash fiction is a sketch. Short stories are small paintings with a limited view. And as the stories get larger they take on ever growing dimensions until a series becomes the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

A painter wouldn’t know how to use a writer’s words any more than a writer knows how to use the painter’s brushes. The tools that each uses is peculiar to the medium in which they work. And yet the painter gets more leeway when it comes to being derivative early in their career.

Stay safe. Wear a mask when you go out. Keep social distance. Wash your hands. Take care of yourself and each other. We’ll get through this together.