My Inspiration

Whenever I am compelled to start writing, my immediate reaction is to write about family. There is a lot of pain, as well as joy, that derives from my family, whether it is my close family, or distant. Besides the hardships, the importance of family is something that my parents reinforced throughout my childhood and into my young adult life. Some were silent lessons of making sure I was always around them when I was young, but others developed as I grew older; through funerals, holidays, new family members through marriage or birth, the message that family will always come first was always just under the surface. Which, I suppose, is why it is my first response.

I also find that nature really gets me in the mood to write. I have a hammock strung between two birch trees in my backyard that I swing in often. I watch the birds hop above me, the leaves rustle in the wind, perch my knees up, and scribble in my notebook for hours. I have always loved nature, another thing that I can credit my parents for. Annually, my parents, brother and I stay for a weekend at a secluded cabin with no electricity, running water, or basically any other civilization around. I am not able to go there seeing as how it is two hours away and boat access only; however, my hammock allows me to conceal myself from my neighbors & the busy traffic and just write.

There are so many other little things as well. I love language, so just conversations with friends and family, or even strangers will spark some inspiration for a story or even just a single line in a poem. I also have a passion for music, so compositions that tend to give me chills really inspire me. I think walking is something a lot of people gather inspiration from, myself included, not only because it might be a brand new place that you’re visiting, but also just the little things that you might notice on a daily walk to class on campus. Something I do not do enough is write down single phrases, or even just a few words, as I get the inspiration at that moment, a skill I look forward to building upon throughout this semester.

3 Replies to “My Inspiration”

  1. The idea of musical compositions being so impactful it produces a physical feeling in ones body astonishes. I usually get a similar feeling listening to The Piano Dreamers and the Vitamin String Quartet. Both groups cover popular and obscure songs but using violins, cellos, pianos, etc. The songs are then reshaped into new bodies through string instruments, giving the listener a breath of fresh air.

    Since your cabin isn’t always accessible, try going through Monet’s artwork (https://www.claudemonetgallery.org/). His artwork not only offers the scenery you desire but the peacefulness that comes with the experience of being on that hammock. If possible, next time you visit, take pictures of your surroundings and print them. Hang them up as decoration to bring you back to your happy place.

    Finally, I agree with you on the importance of family and friends. The poet Olivia Gatwood likes to relate things like teenage girls to her father and train strangers (in a poem called When I Say That We Are All Teenage Girls). She finds appreciation in small things and her own experienced pain. I totally recommend her book New American Best Friend.

  2. Music is a big inspiration of mine as well. I love that you have a specific hammock for writing. It seems so peaceful. Seeing how you also take inspiration from music I would suggest looking into Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies. They a certain dissonance in the compositions that reminds me of walking in the rain. The slow tempo, I think, helps build a nice relaxing feel to help release the creative muscles from stress and tension. Anytime I have stuck with a story or poem or just need some background music while reading, I always go for Satie.
    I am 100% with you on walking for inspiration. I always have a small notebook with me to fill with ideas whenever I’m walking about. If you’re looking for a good place to walk I would suggest checking out the Arboretum on campus. It’s got a bunch of great pathways to explore, including hills, cliffs, hiking trails, and a creek that runs through all of them. The best thing about it is that each path looks completely different from the last. There are so many things to note and take in that you’ll have to walk it a hundred times just to see everything.
    As far as poets go, I am in love with poetry by Juan Felipe Herrera. His poem “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way,” is a celebration of life and nature. It’s written with a mixture of English and Spanish with the latter being feature a little more heavily than the former so you may need to use a translator if you aren’t fluent in Spanish. My favorite line in the poem is “carne de nuestros hijos rainbows” which roughly translates to “flesh of our rainbow children.” It’s so visceral in description but meaningful when you consider that he’s describing the crops and vegetation in a way that feels deeper than in a beneficial way.

  3. Really interesting to see family and nature intertwining even as you write about them here, Lyndsay; the cabin might be an interesting setting for poems. Cecily Parks’ poetry might interest you, especially her newer book O’Nights, but also her debut Field Folly Snow.

    Poetry has a wonderful ability to think about the paradox of a situation like family, the push and pull, because of the ways line breaks work and because of the potential for ambiguity/negative capability. We’ll be reading some poems, including by Quan Barry and Aracelis Girmay, that deal with family as a tension as well as affection, so you might find further models there. And in the meantime I like Tory and Lidabel’s suggestions for making nature present despite its distance from you!

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