7:30 BELLS Guest Post: The Art of Waiting by Author Helen Landalf

I'm so pleased to share this month's 7:30 BELLS Guest Post by Helen Landalf, author of books for children and teens. 

My husband loves to photograph birds. He leaves the house in the early hours of morning to find a spot at the beach, by a lake or under the cherry tree in our backyard. He waits, camera in hand, until a warbling call alerts him or a flash of movement catches his eye. Then he lifts his lens to frame the sky, hoping to capture the perfect moment when an eagle or heron, a blue jay or sparrow, spreads its wings and takes flight.

Some days he is successful, and his camera brims with images of soaring birds. Other times, he comes home empty-handed. But even when he has nothing tangible to show, he’s satisfied in knowing that he has practiced his art. He was there, camera ready, waiting.

I, on the other hand, tend to approach my creative work as a task to be accomplished. I hunch over my laptop, worshipping the god of productivity: this word count must be met, that chapter must be completed. Even on days that refuse me the gift of ringing bells or fluttering wings, I force my ideas onto the page, and a writing session that produces no progress can send me into a spiral of despair.

But I am learning from my husband. Instead of pushing, I’ve begun to wait for a flicker of inspiration to dance, like a bird, on the edges of my consciousness. I’m careful not to move too quickly, for fear it will fly away. With patience, it ventures closer, perhaps rewarding me with a chirp or two. If I sit long enough in silence, the bird warbles and the bells begin to chime – faintly, at first. But when I continue to hold my mind open, the bells peal, the bird bursts into song, and my heart soars as I catch my story in flight.

The true art is in simply being there, receptive.

Helen Landalf is author of the YA novel FLYAWAY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), as well as two picture books and five nonfiction books for teachers. When she’s not writing, she teaches dance and Pilates and hosts international students in her home. On weekends, she often goes bird watching with her husband, Steven.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on July 14 for a guest post with children's book author, Trudi Trueit