Guest author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater joins us today with a guest post on a very important part of writing: Inviting Hummingbirds! Amy lives on Heart Rock Farm (The Poem Farm) in Holland, NY. Her first poetry book, FOREST HAS A SONG, will be published by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Spring 2013) and her second book, READING TIME, will be published by WordSong/Boyds Mills Press (date TBA). In addition to poetry, Amy has written local NPR commentaries as well as a column for EDIBLE BUFFALO.
The other morning, as most of the house slept, our ten-year-old son Henry came running downstairs with wild eyes,
“There’s a hummingbird in my room! There’s a hummingbird in my room!”
I followed him upstairs, rubbing his back, smiling about my boy and his hummingbird dreams.
When we reached Henry’s bedroom, I heard the truth before I saw it. There, whirring against the inner screen of his skylight darted a little green beauty. This was not a dream. It was better than a dream. As I gently caught Zippy in a polka-dotted sheet, Henry cranked the window above his headboard. “I must have left it open all night.” Laughing in wonder, we walked downstairs and onto the deck, opening this delicate sheeted gift to our morning, sending Zippy back to her life.
Writing is full of hummingbirds, surprises that we almost miss or think aren’t real enough to matter. And these hummingbirds are whirring too; sometimes we just need to still ourselves enough to hear them.
When I get to a stuck spot in my writing, I invite a hummingbird.
I turn off all phones, lie on the couch, and close my eyes. I breathe deeply and wait. And you know what? A hummingbird always comes. It might be a memory of curling dandelion stems in dish soap or a memory of sweet Mr. Clark singing “Once in love with Amy.” It may be the sound of a skipping stone or a recipe for cardamom bread or the feel of milkweed silk or a word that’s fun to say…like flibbertigibbet. A hummingbird.
When I am writing in rhythm, daily and with daily goals, there are days that my page and mind need to wander in colorful meadows before walking across a blank page. And so I still my body and hold out my hands, trusting….always…in surprises. And then, bird in hand, I go back to my desk.
Have I ever fallen asleep? Yes. And you may too. But dreams, too, inform our writing lives.