When I start spilling words on the page, I never know what’s going to happen. I usually have a glimmer of an idea, as fine as a grain of sand, or as fragile as a sand dollar that washes ashore. I find these in pieces.
Ideas, like sand dollars, hardly ever arrive whole, intact.
Writing is like that.
In my mind, ideas lie buried under all kinds of daily strata; I sift the clutter to see if any little treasures shake out.
Some bits don’t seem very appealing, like shell fragments that a beachcomber ignores, but here’s what I’ve noticed: The simplest things spark deep connections, reveal hidden meanings. An example: Trying to compose a blog post when I was exhausted, I felt I had nothing of value to say. All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep. I couldn’t shake the image of burrowing under the blankets . . . so that’s what I wrote about. The blanket quickly became a metaphor for the love of my family, wrapped tight around me. I thought, Well, it’s done. It’s meaningful to me, but I doubt anyone else will be interested.
That post set the record on my blog for the most likes.
Ideas and images come for a reason, with messages that the writer, as receiver, has the singular calling to interpret and convey. I’m often in awe of where the writing leads when I stick with it.
I’ve learned, above all, that writing is a relationship. It’s alive. Work at it, and the writing will work for you; stay faithful to the writing, and the writing stays faithful to you.
Fran Haley is a K-12 English Language Arts educator currently serving as a K-5 literacy coach. Writing is her favorite thing to do and to teach; she loves helping others of all ages grow to love writing. She facilitates writing workshop training for teachers in her district and authors the blog Lit Bits and Pieces: Snippets of Learning and Life. Connect with her on Twitter: @fahaley.