So much promise…

My first peony of the season opened on Sunday. I’ve been keeping an eye on the buds as they show colour and swell with promise, but this one appeared while I wasn’t paying attention.

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The clematis are showing promise, too, but none of the buds have opened quite yet. (The banner photo is from last year.)

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So much promise! I love seeing all the spring newness as it happens. It’s hard to believe that in just two weeks — on Father’s Day — spring will be replaced by summer.

We’re already into a 30+ celsius week here, and the annuals that have burst into bloom in my baskets are dipping their heads against the oppressive brilliance and begging for extra drinks. It’s taking them a while to get accustomed to the sudden heat. (It’s taking me a while, too! I am SO not a lover of hot weather, but it sure gets those buds into bloom quickly.)

Seeing all the buds makes me think of ideas — those tight little word capsules that show up in a writer’s mind and tantalize with all their promise of what might be coming. It doesn’t help to be impatient when they’re slow to blossom into a potential story. It doesn’t help to focus on them, willing them into reality. Like a watched clock, they aren’t going to move ahead any faster for all our extra attention.

All the potential will surprise us, as the peony did, by simply showing up when the time is right, probably when we least expect it. At least, that’s been my experience.

How do your new ideas develop?

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Eventide at Wildwood

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After sunset, the woods around us grow quiet. Dusk descends like a muffling snowfall, silently subduing the day. There will still be light in the marsh, but the trail to it is dark, and recent wildlife activity makes it a wee bit too menacing for a walk in that direction.

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DSC05146 - Version 2I lean on the deck rail and watch a single robin and starling make their last rounds of the lawn for bedtime snacks. What an odd pair. A towhee lands on the clematis trellis and perches for a few moments, keeping an eye on me, ever hopeful that I will recant and put out the bird feeder again. Sorry, little fella, but it won’t reappear until winter does.

As daylight’s murmurs subside, nighttime’s begin. Two chirps from hidden tree frogs set off more, and soon a chorus swells in the marsh. Every night their evensong canticles overlay the hush of darkness.

The coming weekend promises summer-like heat, but there are still enough remnants of springtime’s chill to start shivers dancing across my shoulders, and eventually chase me indoors. With the words, “It is well with my soul” running through my mind, I slip inside and slide the patio doors closed behind me.

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Eventide at Wildwood is complete.

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Active and Passive Waiting (again)

There were too many happy distractions during the past week, and creating a new post wasn’t in the cards. I hope you’ll find something of interest in this re-run from 2013.

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“They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton
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I admit to doing a lot of sitting. I sit and think, sit and talk, sit and watch, sit and write. In this photo taken by my DD, I was sitting and absorbing inspiration from the sight, sounds and smells of the ocean.

Sometimes I sit and wait.

Writers do a lot of waiting… waiting for time to write and inspiration to strike, or perhaps waiting to hear from beta readers, editors and agents. The most ineffective kind of waiting is passive, and I don’t believe indulging in it has any value. If we sit, wonder and worry, we fall prey to negativity. We stagnate. Active waiting puts us in control of how we are affected by the passage of time. It’s all about attitude.

Being proactive results in being productive. While we probably can’t change the outcome of whatever it is we’re awaiting, we can use the time to our advantage by doing something positive. Writers might start a new story or article, go on a research trip, contact a colleague to brainstorm or offer encouragement. Whether in life or writing, when we make an effort to wait actively, we discover there are all sorts of possibilities.

Milton’s quote is often used out of context, but so are the scripture verses below. They can be construed to mean we should just sit around (or stand) and wait for God to make something happen. But in my books faith is meant to be active. I know it’s a noun, but I prefer to think of it as a verb… a kind of ‘doing’… just as waiting should be a ‘doing’.

Can you think of other situations in which we can actively wait and thus move forward rather than be a victim of  inactivity?

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“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Isaiah 40:31a

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart.

Psalm 27:14a

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Limitless Imagination

Focused on homework, my visiting granddaughter was unaware that her imaginative head gear was beguiling. The oversized maple leaf was one of her ‘finds’ during an earlier walk with her sister and Grampa.

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She brought home other leaves, wrapped around the stems of wildflowers to create formal little nosegays, but this one she plunked on her head and wore unselfconsciously through the homework session that followed the walk. It was the only prop she needed to be a studious pixie princess.

Where does imagination come from? A Popular Science article explains it this way:

Cognitive scientists hypothesize that our ability to imagine, to come up with mental images and creative new ideas, is the result of something called a “mental workplace,” a neural network that likely coordinates activity across multiple regions of the brain.”

Personally, I’m convinced the ‘mental workplace’ can be stimulated to even greater productivity by exposure to various forms of art, such as the written word, colours, sounds, shapes and textures.

Leo Tolstoy believed, every work of art causes the receiver to enter into a certain kind of relationship both with him who produced, or is producing, the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same artistic impression…

The feelings with which the artist infects others may be most various — very strong or very weak, very important or very insignificant, very bad or very good: feelings of love for one’s own country, self-devotion and submission to fate or to God expressed in a drama, raptures of lovers described in a novel, feelings of voluptuousness expressed in a picture, courage expressed in a triumphal march, merriment evoked by a dance, humor evoked by a funny story, the feeling of quietness transmitted by an evening landscape or by a lullaby, or the feeling of admiration evoked by a beautiful arabesque — it is all art.

I’m not sure I fully understand how art and imagination are linked, but I believe that most children who from infancy are exposed to music and books, and who are motivated by parental example and encouragement to explore artistic realms beyond their experience, are more likely to be successful in self-expression and academic achievement.

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Julia Cameron understood the value of stimulating imagination by going on ‘artist’s dates’, taking time to refuel, and rediscover creativity. Our ‘mental workplace’ needs an environment that is conducive to empowering its potential, and unleashing its limitless capacity. If we want our stories to ‘infect others’, we must first experience the necessary emotions and images, and then be able to convey them as textual art on the page. We must constantly nourish our imaginations.

My granddaughters don’t seem to have a problem with that, but it’s an endless challenge for me!

Do you view your writing as art? How do you enrich it to be its imaginative best?

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