A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire
Listening to the Wisdom of Wild Grapes
The summer I decided to stay home full time with my children I had a dream in which a young man knocked on my door, took my hand, and told me it was time to be a writer. My husband had just taken a job that would provide enough income for me to stay home. Stressed by juggling a full time career, young children, and a husband who travelled, I closed my counseling practice so we could move closer to his new job.
Suddenly my life was centered at home with an active six-year old son and a precocious two-year old daughter. I knew I needed to find a creative outlet that would nourish me as much as being a therapist had. This muse figure was guiding me to be the writer I had always planned to become. But he didn’t indicate how I was supposed to write as a mother at home full time.
The most natural way to commit to writing was to write about life with my children. Since birth I’d been keeping diaries for my son and daughter. Writing the stories of their lives was a way to deeply connect with them, and as it turned out, an ideal way to develop as a writer. Diary writing fit naturally into slivers of time while they were sleeping, at school, or playing with friends.
My three children are grown now. In the twenty years since closing my practice, writing to them has inspired my creative writing – including memoir, plays and poetry.
Much of my writing, especially my poetry, is inspired by photographs that seem to have a deeper story to tell. Sometimes, it’s as if I hear a photo whispering a secret message to me. Exploring the dramatic world of a photo, I seek the heart of a poem, writing spontaneously from questions I pose – not following rules or making rhymes. I express what I haven’t expressed. I write to surprise myself with something true and beautiful and meaningful.
My poem, Wild Grapes, grew from a photo I took of a grapevine dangling over my path as I walked in my woods one autumn. What prompted me to take the picture? Was I trying to tell myself something? When I wrote as if the grape vine could answer, I was surprised to discover the heart of my poem was fear of facing an empty nest. Writing “Wild Grapes” brought me to a new beginning instead of an ending.
I’m sure you have a photo that’s whispering to you. Close your eyes and let it spring to mind. Find the photo if you can. Place it in front of you now. What prompted you to take the picture? What are you trying to tell yourself?
Editor’s Note: Sign up for Kelly’s newsletter and receive her free 50-page guide for using photos for poetic inspiration to jump-start your writing.
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