About Pam Collage Art by Pam Writing Life Manifesto

art by Pam Hogeweide


I tried to build a writing life for just about ten years. Along the way I blogged my heart out, made friends with many writers and authors, wrote a book that had very modest sales (it broke the thousandth mark!!), and I have endorsed several books for others and have even been mentioned or cited in several books, including my friend Deborah’s book that just came out in October.

I figured the writing path, un-lucrative as it might have proved for me, was still, after all, my path. 

Then, my curiosity got the best of me. I began messing around with making collage art pieces. I made them for friends. I made them and threw  them away. I made more and bigger pieces and displayed them around my home. My friends began displaying them around their homes. Collage art had become my new form of self-expression.

I felt, for awhile, like I was cheating on my writing muse. I’d slink into my  tiny office avoiding eye contact with the  bone pile of writing notes   for my next book. Instead I tiptoed into a creative tryst with collage art. The colors, the images, the possibilities of every blank canvas became my new lover. Writing would have to wait.

When my teen boy was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, my world fell apart. I wondered about capturing all the pain of the journey through a dedicated blog about entering CancerLand. I threw a journal in my purse thinking I might want to scribble my thoughts and experiences during the many hours of waiting rooms, hospital stays and treatments. But my journal sank to the bottom of my bag. Writing about the most excruciating moments of my life, my family’s life, felt like too much effort, that by putting energy into capturing the words would somehow diminish the much needed strength I needed for my son.

I blogged two or three times about cancer, like how it failed to make me Super Mom (click here to read that story), but that was it. I could not bring myself to keep a written record about the wild terrain of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

That’s when art became  a torrid, sensuous  love affair for me. As my son Jeremy rested, I would sneak away to my creative space, my little office in the basement right by the washing machine and dryer, and I would pour my grief and fear onto the canvas. Colors, images, I smashed them together into new possibilities as I at times heaved with deep emotion. Like this one, Fear Not, I made it on the eve of our family learning how Jeremy was responding to treatment. Would he need more chemo? Was he done? Anxiety churned in my entire being.

Fear Not

Print available in my Etsy shop (click image)

I was restless. I could not sleep. Once Jeremy was comfortably settled I turned to art for comfort. That was the night I used some of his medical papers to make the art. Buried under the colors and images is a layer of his lab report, his blood count. Using it in the art seemed like an act of resistance, as if I was giving cancer the middle finger to it’s face.

The next day we learned that Jeremy did indeed need more treatment, another three months. That was hard, really hard, but he got through it, we got through it with him and today he is a thriving college freshman living life to the fullest!

It was during that hard season that art became my saving grace. And it is when a wonderful thing happened that I did not expect to happen : during all that art making the gift of what Elizabeth Gilbert calls fierce trust showed up. Maybe gift is not the right word … fierce trust is more like a state of free fall. I learned to free fall into the creative process and not fret about how all this investment of time and energy into art making was going to pay off. Would I sell more prints on Etsy? Would I have another successful art show? Would my art be noticed and appreciated for all the vulnerability I put into it? But I learned to surrender, to not worry about whether people would like my art or respond to it, no matter how many times I posted it on Instagram and Facebook.  Fierce trust in the creative process means the outcome cannot matter. 

I love this quote from Andy Warhol :

Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, Make more art. 

I think this can apply to all kinds of endeavors we choose in our life, not just creative endeavors. Fierce trust in the process rather than the outcome frees us to Be rather than Do.

Writing is still a good friend of mine, a long-time friend. We still hang out (this blog proves that.) I have learned to merge my writing and art together. Words insist on being included in the collage pieces I make. I listen. I trust.  I make more art.

What about you? How are you making more art and free falling into fierce trust these days? What does it look like for you? I’d love to know!


Available on Amazon

***UPDATE*** I mentioned my friend’s new book in the beginning of this  blog post. Your Vocational Credo by Deborah Loyd is available on Amazon.  It’s a great, practical guide about determining your unique vocation (not career path) that makes up who you are wherever you go. Great read, and look for me on pages 99/100 !!!!



The Fierce Trust of Free Falling — 19 Comments

  1. Hi Pam,
    This post is so inspiring as are you. Fierce is a very appropriate word. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to read more.

    • My instagram soul sister Pam !!! Thanks for reading and commenting. FIERCE is a great word, isn’t it ?! I appreciate your warm encouragement. It feels good to be back in the blogging world while I also continue to create art. I look forward to more digital conversations with you !

  2. Pam,

    I have an old writer friend. She is seventy-nine. She tells me again and again that my writing life is mine and will never look like anyone else’s. One time when our son was having his ump-teenth surgery she said, “This is your life and you are in it. And even though you are not writing in the way you wish you could be writing, this difficult season is a part of the process. What you are going through will deepen your writing, even if you never write about all that you and your family have gone through.” I am certain she is right. So many times I have simply longed for the energy to write. Because this is what it takes…it takes a colossal amount of energy to pour words out on to a page. And for how you found comfort in collage; it is the beauty that you craved and needed. And it is beautiful. This is your Art and you are in it. I am so glad I know you. Your story ‘fiercely’ resonates with my soul in the deep places. This is one of my favorite blog posts…EVER!!!!!

    • Kristen !!!!!!

      I love what your 79-y old writer friend has to say. Yes and amen!

      I think collage art became my lifeline instead of writing because it required such little rational thinking. I could literally be zombie like and depleted and the sensuality of art, the paint on the fingers, the feel of the paper and canvas, the mess of it all, would quite literally color me on the inside where I wanted to shrivel up. ARt was how I told my story to myself and to others… and it is still is my fave way to storytell.

      I LOVE that you love this blogpost. After I published it i thought, hm… well, if it doesn’t resonate with other people i’m gonna be ok with that and practice what i preach by fiercely trusting that i needed to write that for myself. thank you for letting me know (thank you everyone!) that fierce trust and free falling are a part of your storyline, too.

      Hugs from afar!!

  3. ***I used some of his medical papers to make the art. Buried under the colors and images is a layer of his lab report, his blood count. Using it in the art seemed like an act of resistance, as if I was giving cancer the middle finger to it’s face.**

    Pam, I love love love how you utilized ART to deal w/ your pain.

    God gives us those beautiful outlets & I have MUCH gratitude for this.

    There is a scene ( did I tell you before? ) in one of Woody Allen’s movies where a lady says, “OOOO, how does one make it thru darkness without art?”

    That line always stayed w/ me because it’s true.

    Without words, I would have disappeared when Kay was murdered.

    LOVE from MN. xx GREAT POST!!!

    • My Inner Chick, aka KIM !!!

      How does one make thru darkness without art?

      Wow, that IS a good line!

      Where words failed me when Jeremy was sick, colors came through to rescue. I know it was words that Saved You and continue to save you in the abyss of darkness that was your sister’s murder. The letter your finally wrote and posted to her killer ….. damn Kim ….. powerful and heart wrenching. Your words, your VOICE is light to yourself and to others in that darkness. Shine, shine, S H I N E…..

      (always love connecting with you via the blogs and facebook. if you ever come to portland or anywhere near portland, holler!)

  4. Pam,

    I am surprised by how similar some of the events or stages of your life are to mine. Maybe there is something about the times we live in, or perhaps it is something about this stage of life.

    I am trying to remember how I first came to know of your writing. I read a book about women in the church/women leaving the church. Were you mentioned in that book? I think it led me to your book (which many more people should read). I think maybe I had already left the church by then. My child did not survive her “cancer”, her addiction to heroine. (I don’t mean to imply that cancer and addiction are strictly comparable.) I have survived. now, three and a half years of free fall. I left my husband, moved across the country, and got a master’s degree (which some people in my life consider an indulgence), and I am maybe nearing the ground, finding a new relationship and a new job teaching the most disenfranchised men in our country. So far, I have not thrown myself into a real free-fall off a cliff, but it has seemed tempting at times. I am not sure “fierce trust” is something I’ve experienced, yet. I am not sure what I would be trusting. For awhile, because it seemed that I had nothing to lose, I was trusting myself and pursuing my goals. Losing my daughter taught me that life is short and that we ought to live it well. As a friend recently said to me, “If this is our life, and if we aren’t doing what we want, what are we doing here?” It is easy to fall back into just going along and getting by, especially when there are bills to pay. I am increasingly aware that I have stopped trusting that my dreams are worth pursuing.

    And art, a creative process in which the outcome does not matter. I have started Zen Doodling, or Tangling, or whatever anyone wants to call it. The point is to always go forward. You tangle with a pen. Mistakes must become part of the pattern, just as they are in life. It is a very simple art form and is accessible to all of us, no matter what our level of artistic skill may be. And it is teaching me to see the patterns and designs all around me, to notice detail and rhythm, and to feel that maybe there is an artist in me.

    And weaving. I have started learning to weave in the Rio Grande tradition of northern New Mexico. I do this largely for the opportunity to be with women my age or older who have children and grandchildren, and who have had, therefore, life experiences something like my own. Of course, there is also all that lovely fiber, those colors, and the amazing patterns.

    So, yes, art. And free fall. and the need to trust and live.


      • I don’t think you can edit a comment after you post it on WordPress. As the site administrator, I can edit or delete any comment. If there is something you would like to edit or delete email me and I will take care of it for you!

    • Hi Kelli
      thanks for sharing some of your story, especially about the loss of your child. it is hard for families that are spared the suffering of addiction to understand the upheaval and the need to surrender and Not Blame. We have seen addiction in our families. My husbands brother died younger than he should have, and it was definitely related to the years of unbridled alcoholism, but he died sober, living indoors and went peacefully while sleeping in his own bed. This comforted us. (R.I.P. Allan!!!)

      I wonder if you read my book, when you talk about women and the church. I wrote a book a few years back, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church. I blogged about the topic of Christianized sexism for years. Our paths must of crossed somehow that way, and I’m glad they did!

      What you wrote:

      I am increasingly aware that I have stopped trusting that my dreams are worth pursuing.

      Wow. Now that’s a statement I definitely can relate to. I will be 52 this year. I am always recalibrating just what it is my dreams are? They shift and morph over the years. I fall prey to the lie that My happiness is selfish and not worth pursuing. Oh the conversations I am sure you and I could have!

      Love hearing that creativity has a firm hold on your life. Yes! Zen doodling and weaving both sound amazing.

      Thanks again for sharing your story and your insights. Stay inspired!

  5. I’m wondering how many of us are standing at our creative precipice, dismantling all the resistance that we seem to have accumulated for more reasons than reason can actually count..again Sis, your timing is impeccable. Salud

  6. You are a very powerful writer..and artist. Two of my sister’s had children with cancer. One survived, one didn’t.
    I’m glad your son is doing well.
    Keep creating!

    • Thx so much for your generous words, Linda.

      I am so sorry to hear that cancer hit your family twice… And to lose a child…. My heart aches. I am a huge fan now of organizations like Make a Wish and Children’s Cancer Assoc (here in Oregon). Cancer is no respector of age.

      I will def keep creating. Hope you and your sisters are too !!

  7. appreciated reading this tonight on the eve of me launching a podcast that is interesting to me but possibly only me! thanks for the reminder that fierce trust is the thing. Glad to hear your son is thriving and good to see you thriving too. Kind regards Melanie

    • Hi Melanie, yay for BRAVE you making the leap !! I will have to check it out and see what you are podcasting about.

      Best of luck as you fiercely trust your creative path !

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