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When Creativity is a Scream

Those who personally know and/or follow me on social media recognize how much I love taking pictures of birds. I also love drawing them, both realistic and ‘birb’-like. I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that two adorable doves shared our lives for around twenty years, or if photographing birds helped me keep my sanity during the worst of the pandemic. Probably both.


That leads to a lot of people asking me when I’m going to write a bird story. And the thing is, I have. Well, sort of. I’ve written pieces and parts and developed characters and plots and...


Never finished one.


Either I couldn’t make the endings stick, the muddy middles remained murky, or the structure simply didn’t work.


Inspiration eluded me. For years.


This past week I started a new class focusing on the art/technique of colored pencils. (It’s in-person. Yes! We get to be in a room together. I hadn’t realized how much I missed this!)


My amazing teacher brought in some pictures for us to use and I immediately chose a close-up photograph of a screaming peacock.

Not only did I fall in love with the colors, but this bird had personality. As I worked, I remembered how surprised I was the first time I heard a peacock. How a creature so elegant had such an ear-piercing scream.


A scream?


Maybe it was a wake-up call. Maybe it cleared out some cobwebs. Maybe the sound shook lose pieces that had previously been stuck. But suddenly, story elements that had long eluded me began to reveal themselves.


This peacock not only insisted on inserting himself into one of my stories, but he also offered ‘sound’ advice. It was as if his voice – literally! –was the missing ingredient. The dash of salt needed to bring out the flavor of the entire meal.


I don’t know if these new ideas will shine. Or even work. But now I realize that inspiration isn't always an elusive butterfly. Sometimes, thankfully, it's a screaming bird.

I’m ready to revisit and revise with a fresh attitude and new optimism. Join me?

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