A Misplaced Imagination

I have heard from other writers in the last several months, each expressing a sense of stifled imagination, despite having more time to dedicate to their craft, time they would have spent commuting and/or at work outside the home. Worry and changes in their creative patterns have, at times, choked off the flow of ideas, blurred the images knocking on the inside of their heads trying to find their way to paper. I am familiar with the discomfort of a misplaced imagination. I would prefer to be a stranger to this particular malady, to keep a healthy distance from it as though we know each other only slightly, enough for the exchange of a benign nod, but …
I belong to the Writers’ Union of Canada and as a member, I receive the quarterly Write magazine, filled with resources, opinions, announcements, lots to feed my writerly mind. It is the one magazine, succinct and tightly written, that I read cover to cover, taking in every word, highlighting messages on various pages in the hopes I will remember them for more than ten minutes. The summer issue recently arrived in my mailbox, on a day when I was trying desperately to crawl out from under the heavy load of negative news. Lo and behold – I was rescued.
Third column in, I read the wise words of Editor Rhonda Kronyk, sharing her story of consciously caring for her mental health during these uneasy and uncertain days. She and a friend have emailed each other every Sunday for more than two years, a weekly exchange they call Sunny Side Up. The exercise has helped them focus and to see the goodness in each day, not to miss something off to the side, and the spin-off is they often become part of making “good things happen”, and their exchanges have become even more essential these days for their sense of wellbeing. I exclaimed happily and loudly with a hearty YES when I was finished reading and her words were, as we like to say, exactly what the “doctor ordered”. I am, generally speaking, not a negative person. I write a blog about that for which I feel gratitude and it helps me focus on what is working in the world rather than the burgeoning inventory of what isn’t working. The idea of friends sharing their Sunny Side Up messages recharged my depleted battery.
It’s Sunday morning as I write this, sitting with a cup of aromatic coffee that I most likely will forget to drink, with photos and inspirational words in front of me, pinned to a large bulletin board above my desk, along with ideas and kind letters and memories. It all plays a role in launching me into the day with a joyful heart and to set my head into its writing mode. I turned the page in my Write magazine and read the soothing words of Ailsa Ross shared under Writer’s Prompt, where she wrote about protecting and feeding her own muse, of walks in the forest, of sitting by the creek and letting the sound of tumbling water bring her the metaphors and similes she needs, of finding stories in the night sky, of bringing back something from her walks, such as a broken alder branch that, while waiting in water in a jar on her desk, brings her new leaves that whisper words such as “hopeful, imaginative, bright.” Ailsa’s finding of her imagination fed mine. It turns out Ailsa and I both had the wonderful experience of being the Writer-in-Residence for Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon. Ailsa wrote The Girl Who Rode A Shark, and other stories of daring women, illustrated by Amy Blackwell and released in 2019, a book filled with stories of courage and adventure, stories of girls and women from around the world both historical and contemporary, a book which girls of every age would do well to tuck into a comfy chair with. My copy is at the ready. Thank you, Rhonda, and thank you Ailsa, for the sunshine and for the inspiration.