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An Extra Gift

August 18, 2004

I am a writer. I have always been a writer. Itís part of my identity, part of who I am. I have never claimed to be an artist of any sort. Sure, I love to run around snapping pictures. Sure, Iíve been told they are good. But itís just so easy! Pointósnapóanother beautiful image captured. Of course I know it isnít really that easy. Iíve been taking pictures for as long as Iíve been writing. And, since film and developing cost money, I had to learn early on to make them count. And Iíve always been embarrassed to be caught out for an amateur, so I taught myself the craft. 

People have told me for years that I should sell my pictures. Huh? Theyíre just pictures! Iím a writer, not a photographer, not an artist. But I have been unemployed and broke for a very long time. One day last winter I sat down and went through my stacks of albums and selected some photos. I made note cards. They sold. I became braver, and made enlargements. They sold.

Today I am going to present my photos for possible display at a high-visibility gift shop. 

There is a lesson here. All my life my dreams have centered around one thingówriting. And as Iíve wrestled with my writing, getting nowhere fast, photos have been accumulating. Salable photos. Writing may be as natural as breathing to me, but so is photography. But I have been so focused on honing the one skill, I hadnít even realized Iíve been also honing the other.

So go ahead and dream, but donít let it overwhelm your mindset to the point where you are blind to other possibilities, talents you maybe didnít even notice you were developing. Thereís no rule that says we are each given only one gift, but I do believe we have an obligation to use as many gifts as we have been given.