I’m a writer heavily influenced by place. I like to absorb my surroundings, to understand the pulse and flow of the day around me. To find a topic or a theme or a story that drives me forward.
I love the slow roll of cornfields and summer days traveling, and the hot heat of my grandmother's garden. I search for the people behind the place, for their language and their culture. This is what inspires me.
All writing should come from a place of inspiration. To write is to speak in a voice that is yours, to celebrate joys and share pains, to overcome trials and understand what it means to be human. It is to shine a little light on into the world. To leave the light on for the next readers.
But we aren’t always inspired. We feel the flutter of a thought or idea, and it is easy to let it go. It is easy to continue on our day with our duties, to lose the flash of inspiration. We don’t receive these moments every day. Professional writers do open up their channels and work to receive this every day. They leave their doors and windows open, beckoning the glint of light on broken glass, the moon shining into our dreamy minds.
Anyone can do this too. How do you find your place of inspiration?
Hone in on what brings you joy.
One day I was sitting quietly at the library with my college roommate. It was getting late and we were beyond able to focus so I was welcomed a late night call from my sister.
She called to tell me she was entering herself into rehab. She described to me how she approached our parents, how many pills she was on a day (20 at this time), and then at the end asked me if I was proud.
I wasn't proud. I was completely confused. I did not understand what was happening, not until years later after a second trip and a worse fall back into drugs changed her life completely for the better. At the young age of 19 I watched my sister struggle with addiction until she finally released herself from the muddiness of it all to safer, sober ground.
I once said yes to a burning desire to write, one I had no idea how to overcome.
I decided to go the creative route and write a 150 page fiction thesis about half way through graduate school. So, I had less time to prep and more time to take action.
I was fearful at the thought that 150 pages was required to graduate now. I had only ever written about 150 pages of fiction ever - total in my life. I had been dabbling in blogging. I had written four maybe five fiction stories before. How could I reach this huge and overwhelming goal? I had to figure out a way to write more right away. I knew I could do it, and that if I wanted to really be a creative writer this was a part of the job.
In fiction writing, I started to train myself to be more a prolific writer. These few strategies helped me write more fiction and reach my ultimate goal in a few months. Producing more writing can be a great way to find great ideas, create more stories, and weed out to your best writing.
There is still always editing and time to take afterwards too, but here’s how I got started pumping out fiction writing.
The hot, heat of summer has finally arrived in Detroit. We are more than ready for it. I love to run with the sun beating down on my skin. I love the taste of hot coffee under the hot sun. There’s something pulsating, beating about the heat, the body, and day.
Everyone is out and more alive, and our work is more passionate, more focused. It’s going to be a great summer. I can feel it.
When we wind down and are ready for rest, the slow comfort of heat is there to wrap its arms around me, to let me fall into a hazy, dreamy doze.
It feels like this, both the fast movement and slow rest on Sundays at the garden. My grandmother’s garden is one of my favorite stories to tell. It is a story rich in history, culture, resilience to live in in her neighborhood still to this day. It's a theme of rebirth, of nurturing roots for my own family that is at times separated, fractured, disconnected.
I’m recording photos to remember this place, my family, and what we call our own, sometimes jokingly, Detroit Urban Farm. We are done planting for the summer and now onto weeding and caring for the garden.
My grandmother has had a grape leaf vine for fifty years - nearly as long as she’s lived in her house. The vine takes over a whole side of the yard like a barrier to the blight next door. We picked the leaves and gave the large ones to Grandma; she only works with the largest leaves. It’s time to blanch them today, wrap them up in flavor later this week. I always follow grandma’s recipe, to simmer for a day in garlic and lemon, all of the leaves wrapped tightly into a pot.
After weeding or picking at our little Detroit Urban Farm, there’s always a heavy sleep that tries to take over. I fight it and go to my other comforting space Bamboo Detroit to work, or head home to rest for a bit. I’m so grateful to have a place to go every week, where family works together under the sun, in a forgotten little house tucked away.
It is my safe haven, my summer serenity. What is yours?