It’s not that I’m unorganized but like any writer or other creative person, I have scraps of inspiration that I haven’t processed all over the place.

Mainly, I have photos and screenshots removed from my phone in bulk and dumped into folders to be sorted out at a later date.

This morning, I found myself weeding through these files looking for theatre photos to share with my students in the coming weeks. Part our lesson plans is to share a little about our work as creative artists – this is what I’ve done – but with lots of photos for 2nd and 3rd graders.

This photo of Vietnam protesters near the University of Scranton in 1970 makes my brain buzz. It’s one of the many cool bits of inspiration I captured and saved and never processed. Content hoarding or raw materials patiently awaiting a rainy day?

I have so many folders. Folders for time periods, for projects, for portfolios, for freelance work, for volunteer work, for current work, for each class I teach and for resources I might be able to use in the future etc. etc.

So what’s one more folder? It occurred to me to slide all the clips of text and photos that made me feel something into a prompt folder. And then, write a series of poems in response to the ephemera. Not that I actually have time to do this. But if I can make time to exercise 30 minutes plus 15 minutes mediation plus an hour walk, I should be able to find 30 minutes to respond to a prompt.

For now, these lesson plans are demanding my attention. I don’t wish I could half-ass things, but … it is unfortunate sometimes that I have set the bar so high and stretch and stretch and stretch until it hurts.

I am fortunate that I love this work. I do love teaching. I love finding fun and engaging ways to bring students into mind-expanding exercises. I love to pull back the curtain and demystify the art, breaking it into tiny accomplishable steps that anyone can do. And I love seeing what they make in response to the inspiration.

But I can’t let myself love it so much, become so consumed with it that I stop making my own art. These prompts will help.

They might also help me get back on track with projects I’ve begun and then neglected. My series of “Role Model” essays for example … I just found notes from a chapter about Doris Day in a book I read (well, skimmed) last summer. I had forgotten all about those pages, about her, about the movies that changed my pre-conceived notion of who Doris Day was, what her characters must have meant to women then, and what they could mean to us now. I remember talking at length about Doris Day on Troubadours and Racounters but all of this had slipped my mind.

I have so much work to do. -ag