Work with What You Have

Lately I’ve admittedly been obsessed with a collage artist named Donna Downey.  She is entertaining, funny and one of the most creative artists I’ve ever experienced.  I love her process and the way she uses whatever she has for her weekly Inspiration Wednesday video demonstrations (  I realized this past week how much her process has affected mine, not only as an artist but as a writer.  I was talking with a friend on Wednesday about my blog and how much enjoyment it gives me every week.  The conversation started me thinking about the way I work and why it makes me so happy.  I have to say that one thing I love most about writing is the surprises that arise in the course of crafting a piece.

As soon as I finish one piece, I begin thinking about the next one.  I usually start out fairly open-ended with my topic and then something surfaces that gives the piece direction and focus.  I consider recent events, ideas rolling around in my head, or themes that seem important.  This week I thought about the school picnic that, for the first time, included horses, the circle of sunflowers growing in the outdoor space of one of the 3rd/4th graders, the volunteer marigold growing between pavers under the wheelbarrow in our garden, my trip to southern Arizona to visit with my mom’s cousins (two of whom I haven’t seen in decades), and our successful art silent auction.  As I often do, I looked through my pictures from the past week and one popped out, the hummingbird I miraculously photographed in our back yard last Friday.  As soon as I saw it, I knew the direction of the writing.  The memory of the unexpected hummingbird hovering over me as I bent to dig in the dirt raced to the forefront of my mind.  I relived the way it darted to the garden bed behind me as I subtly turned around and prepared my camera.  The bird was so fast I was amazed I was able to snap the photo.

It was a brief moment that would’ve stayed with me even if I hadn’t been successful with the camera.  The hummingbird rewarded my wide-awakeness by hanging around long enough to let me take the photo.  It reinforced my belief that if you pay attention, what you need appears.  As this piece of writing evolved, I relaxed into the process and trusted that the writing, too, would develop as needed.  The bird provided the metaphor I was seeking to finish this piece.  I worked with what I had and am delighted once again in the surprise of how it all came together.

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