Tag Archives: #whyiwrite

#whyiwrite: October 20, 2018

I should probably title this post, All the Reasons I Don’t Write, instead of using the National Day on Writing hashtag #whyiwrite.  But instead of enumerating a list of excuses, I will use this occasion as an opportunity to write.

I’ve established a regular walking practice.  I’ve learned to carry my walking shoes (and my flip flops) with me in my car, leaving me ready for unexpected opportunities–and no excuses for not walking because I don’t have the right shoes.  My camera is also a motivator for my walking–I love to take those daily photos and walking gets me to interesting locations where I find the fodder for my photography habit.

My writing practice fares better when I have an external expectation keeping me on track.  I wrote and posted daily during the month of April when my students and I took on a 30-day poetry challenge.  And I posted weekly photography challenges for years when the iAnthology was my audience.  So now, I know I need to create some reasons for establishing a regular writing practice–one that takes me beyond the more work-related writing that always happens–you know, the lesson plans, the emails, the proposals and reports.

So I will begin today with some thoughts about birds.  If you’ve visited here before, you have probably noticed my obsessions with egrets, including the post I wrote about the egret being my spirit animal.  But yesterday and today, it was a different kind of bird that was called to my attention.

Birds of prey are difficult to photograph–and even to get a close look at without a camera.  They tend to soar high above our heads, their sharp eyes on the lookout for prey.  Yesterday I spied a hawk perched on a sign along the beach-side cliff.  It sat, overseeing the beach and was not at all bothered by me approaching from below to photograph.  Somehow it seemed appropriate that the sign it was perched on said, “Pack Your Trash!”  While I’m not entirely sure, I’m thinking it’s either a red tailed hawk or a red shouldered hawk.  I thought at first it might have been an osprey–I’ve seen them before in this area, but this was clearly a hawk of some sort.


And today, not far from this same spot along the cliffside, I noticed a man looking intently high up on the cliff.  When I looked up, he drew my attention to the large bird of prey sitting on some bare branches above us.  I knew immediately that it was an osprey (I had done a bit of research when I got home yesterday).  He pointed out the fish beneath the bird, which he had been watching for a bit.  I stood under the branch, trying to capture a photo of this beautiful bird.  Other people came by, commenting on the beauty of this elegant sea eagle.

osprey lunch

I found myself thinking about this coincidence of spotting two birds of prey on my walks on two consecutive days.  When I watch egrets, I think of their patience, their calm and regal manner as they stand knee-deep in the ocean water.  They seem solitary–in great contrast to the seagulls and smaller shore birds that ofter hang out in groups, running with the tide.  When I think of birds of prey, I think of fierceness and independence.  They seem to take control of their environment, taking the long view of the resources below.  They are brutal and efficient, moving sharply as they take their prey, gripping firmly with sharp talons and sharper beaks.

Do I have something to learn from birds of prey right now?  Is this a call to be more decisive, to be more fierce and determined?  I know these beautiful birds have me thinking…and writing.

I know that I write to think, to better understand myself and the world around me.  I write to reflect and to express, to slow down and pay attention.  On this National Day on Writing I renew my commitment to daily writing…and to more frequent posting here.  How will you celebrate the National Day on Writing?  Why do you write?

Weekly Photo Challenge: #whyiwrite

Next week, on October 20th, we have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and power of writing through the National Day on Writing–an initiative supported by NCTE and the National Writing Project. For me, writing and photography have much in common. They are ways to compose my understanding of the world.

Sometimes it is all about paying attention to the world around me, leaning in, and looking my surroundings in the eye. It might result in the magic of an image of a seagull looking closely…at me! I find myself wondering about how it feels to float on an air current, about the social life of seagulls, about where seagulls sleep and nest. And that gets me thinking about my life and dreams and how to keep them aloft.


Both writing and photography help me appreciate my world and experiences more deeply. Documenting the beauty around me keeps me paying attention to the subtle changes in seasons, moods, colors, weather, and more. They force me out of my usual routines as I pull off the freeway on my way home to spend a few minutes gazing at the vibrant oranges of the setting sun. I slow down and breathe…and am grateful for the life I have.


I write with words and pictures to play. Just like the perfect word can transform an idea in an essay, a filter or app can transform an image in a photo. My latest favorite app has been Prisma, it applies some formula from art (like the Scream by Munsch) that recolors your photograph in interesting ways. I used it the other day on this photo of a lifeguard tower…and I love the results!


My camera and pen help me see the ordinary in new ways. Even though I see this tree in my front yard several times a day every day, through the lens of my camera I notice the blue of the sky, the lone blossom (blooming in the wrong season), the moon or the sun peeking through…  The opportunity to re-vision the ordinary changes my perspective and opens up new possibilities.


Documenting learning is another reason why I write and photograph.  I love to capture my students at work, and it’s especially helpful to have that documentation to help me recall the details for blog posts or articles.  This week my students were designing structures out of marshmallows and toothpicks to withstand an earthquake.  After testing their design on a Jello earthquake, they tried additional iterations based on the feedback from the test.


Composing gets me to pay attention to framing, light, structure…all of those choices I make as I write and photograph.  I find myself looking for the way light plays with color…and I love the way the late afternoon sun shines on my dining room table.  I find myself buying flowers for the table just to watch the sun play with them in the afternoon.


The word photography means writing with light…and I do love to write with light!  When I head out with my camera I search for images that provoke my thinking, that please my eye, that inspire me to write and share. I also study my own images in order to improve them, to understand better the angles and light and framing that “work” and those that aren’t quite what I hoped for.  I do go back to familiar places again and again with camera in hand, to revise and re-envision, to gain understanding and make meaning of the world I inhabit.


So, why do you write…with light, with pencil, on the computer, with paint or yarn or fabric (or in any other media)?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #whyiwrite for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Explore your own reasons for writing (with light) and share them with us this week as we join in with others celebrating the National Day on Writing.  I can’t wait to see #whyiwrite through your lens!