Just Another Brick in the Wall

- by Charlotte Hubbard

We’ve moved to a burb of St. Paul MN and our town home is almost remodeled. We’ve had Bart the Builder redoing the kitchen and installing new tile, while Marty the Painter removed wallpaper from every room—silver geometric wallpaper from the lower level!—before recoating the popcorn ceilings and painting all the walls in vibrant, fresh colors.

My pet project has been painting this brick wall. Turns out it’s a lot like crafting a book.

Might look rather ordinary to you, this wall, until you realize that it, too, used to be SILVER. Shiny, metallic silver. Without calculating the hours this 9x11’ wall took me, I’ll say it took most of a Saturday to prime it with white, and most of the following Saturday to cover it completely in Copper Pot, which is the new color in my entryway. The guy at Lowe’s who said he’d used a roller on his brick wall had NO idea about covering my brick wall! (We writers all start from our own unique places, and nobody else can tell us how best to write our story! Or how long it should take.)

I won’t elaborate on how many twists and turns you make with a 4” paintbrush, getting into all those cracks and crannies between the bricks! I then mini-rollered the tops of some of the bricks in the solid red (Salute!) we used on a few accent walls in the house. Loved it, so I covered several more of the bricks in red…feeling my way along. (Most of writing a story is gut instinct, and filling in the cracks and crannies and solid scenes–getting the balance right–takes you as many tools, techniques, and hours as it takes you. There are no shortcuts.)

Painting a brick wall isn’t an exact science. It’s an artsy-fartsy thing, and I needed an artsy-fartsy break from writing this first book in my new Amish series. An attempt at a sponge-painted accent in a third color had me wiping it off before I’d done five bricks. (Sometimes your best ideas don’t work the way you thought! Destroy the evidence and move on.)

I had no idea what to do next. I just knew that with two solid colors, I needed more texture and variation.

Almost as a nonthought, I skimmed the red mini-roller over the high points of a copper brick . . . skimmed another brick, and then another, thinking “This is it! I was making it harder than it had to be!” I completed the rest of the wall in about twenty minutes. Knew I’d found the right touch/technique when Bart the Builder complimented how it looked (Bart is SO not artsy-fartsy!) and Marty the Painter (who was so damn glad HE didn’t have to paint the brick wall!) just stood there saying, “Wow…that is so cool! That looks so awesome!” (When you have the experts thinking you’re one of them, your project is complete. STOP working!)

So there you have it! “Let’s Build Something Together” might be a fine line for Lowe’s, but when it comes to crafting a story—or painting your wall, your way—you work with the materials and talent you have on hand, and you go with your gut. Nobody else can do it for you.

That’s my story—and that’s my wall, thank you!—and I’m stickin’ to it.

2 comments

  1. I admire your enthusiasm for starting a brand new life in a beautiful new home! Writing is indeed like the challenge of painting a brick wall. The trick is not to run into it too often.

  2. Great analogies!
    It’s so fun to watch the transformation of your new home through your Ninc blogs. I expect decorating your home and writing your latest novel each stimulate your creativity for the other.
    The fireplace wall looks terrific.