We might feel that we can only be inspired in or by certain environments. Perhaps we want ‘perfect’ conditions to create our art. Yet, inspiration is everywhere. Even in hard times we find inspiration. This is when we make do (and perhaps do more) with less. A book on pastel drawing, which I borrowed from the library, said that when out in nature, without actual pastels and arty paper, you can use a burnt twig and an envelope… Maybe when we’re restricted and searching for gems, we become more inspired through looking. Our limitations channel our focus and creativity. Just as in my old home county Essex, Russell Brand visualised something ‘glistening’ under the ‘heavy hanging, low grey sky’.

Anyway, here are just some examples of ‘things’ that move me to do.

Books (and their authors!)

Books with dreamscapes and inter-connecting worlds inhabited by deep characters inspire me. In his beautifully woven fictional works, Stephen King provides these. Currently, Robert MacFarlane is inspiring me with his hauntingly beautiful texts on landscapes, from the horizon line to up close. Awareness of ‘depth of time’ through the nature around us fills his writing.

Stodmarsh,inspiration,writing

Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, Kent.

So the dreamy and ethereal appeal to me to in literature, especially when they blend with the real. This is our world, perhaps. I’m re-discovering fairy-tales as an adult and learning what they tell us about our interior and external worlds. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is my re-introduction to this genre, in Women Who Run With the Wolves. She’s reminding me of the stories I read as a child, whilst providing greater insight.

Thrillers also have their influence too. The direct and simple style in which they’re often written is a good antidote for wordiness.

Blogs

Others’ blogs provide ideas and motivation for my own blogging. I also gain much from taking in different perspectives and writing styles. This helps keep our writing (and everything we do) fresh and evolving. Favourites Include:

  • Sharon Kehl Califano for her reflections on introversion and her descriptions of Utah. A desert dream of a landscape. In her post Becoming, she describes how she uses her blog as an ‘accountability tool’. In other words, a way of modifying her communication, nudging her conversation habits in the right direction, as she puts it. Being reminded of this benefit inspires me to carry on with mine. My own blogging inspires me to be concise. I want to see that ‘Readability’ gauge go green!
  • From Myth and Moor I’ve been learning about folktales, music and art. And Terri Wilding’s writing soothes.
  • Jack Monroe’s blog, Cooking on a Bootstrap is fiery. Posts highlight realities on poverty and struggles, that need to be told. The recipes are great too, especially for those on a budget.
  • I also like Little Coffee Fox. Shelby writes about organisation, keeping a bullet journal and stationery. Keeping a (straightforward) bullet journal has helped me immensely. It includes ‘to do lists’ that work. Mine aren’t yet beautifully decorated like Shelby’s are. One day…
  • On teaching there’s ‘Read after Burnout‘. As an ex-state secondary teacher it resonates. Posts are eclectic and abundant – I’m inspired by that.
  • I’m still in the business of language teaching and find ‘Salianne French Focus‘ great for lesson inspiration. This blog has articles in French on cultural topics, which are excellent for intermediate to advanced adult learners. Most posts contain a few curious words to puzzle over.
  • A local blog that inspires me is The Chamomile Clinic’s. It’s full of valuable and fascinating information on herbal medicine and other matters of well-being, marrying the scientific and the spiritual. The Chamomile Clinic is a great place too… Its Red Tent and Cacao Ceremony evenings provide relaxation, insight and inspiration.

Visual Art

How does visual art inspire? It’s difficult to say. Perhaps it’s just that it touches the soul. I’m seeing how others express themselves through this medium and wanting to do the same. My path has not yet become clear though and I keep stopping and starting. I don’t think it matters too much. I’m happy absorbing the work of others and trying things out.

trees,Voogd

Looking to the trees, it’s what I like to do. Detail of Italian Landscape painting by Hendrik Voogd, 1807 (from Rijksmuseum online collection).

Visual art is also a break when you’ve been dealing in words too long. Like a breath and a prayer.

Social Media

Scrolling through Facebook for three minutes which then becomes thirty is not inspiring. In fact it can bring out the worst in us. Though when used wisely, even Facebook can be inspiring. I thank it for keeping my old photos, which are prompts and complements for my writing. I’m grateful for those who write honestly and encourage me to open up too and to those who post on the natural world.

Perhaps Twitter is my favourite. A tweet reminds us of the poetry that exists in a few lines, how to get through hard times, and that there are others who care about what we care about.

Then, I’m warming to Instagram. It encourages me to use the images recorded on my slightly grainy phone camera. I kind of like these unrefined photos as a contrast to those taken with my proper camera. You don’t quite know what you’re getting. Colours are curious and images have that mellow Friday night feel.

Places

Flint

Local flint

All places in time and location inspire. Places we love and places we don’t. If we feel something there, they’re inspiring. Even if it’s boredom or stress. Feelings move us. Then we can do.

If in a desolate and grim place, looking for the ‘small beauties’ helps. We’re in a place which is more urban than I’d like, yet our garden is full of birds. Fred puts out seeds for the wood pigeons, collared doves, robins, hedge sparrows and parakeets. Summer sees butterflies and dragonflies.

In the streets around us, we find nature merging with the man-made. Walls of broken dark toffee (flint), gardens with spindleberry bushes and fig trees.

Back to a greyer place (or was it an illusion?) there’s Essex. I felt little sense of belonging there until I was in my 30s. I’m still not sure when I visit now, even though I find friends and remnants of my family’s heart. Watching Robert Macfarlane’s recent documentary on the county helped me come to terms with this place of fragile roots. He looked for the ‘small beauties’ and other marvels of nature and found them everywhere. Lichen on concrete, flocks of birds over the marshes. Wild despite its toxicity. Just like on the walk I once did in the Dagenham area, over wasteland beside a housing estate. I was with my friend, Ruth, from New Zealand, who had a greater sense of appreciation than me. Rabbits hopped around and munched on the grass. They owned the place. Not much further on we came to a blue lake, giving view to a factory behind… The wonderful art of Grayson Perry has Essex running through it, think on that.

Spindleberry,Broadstairs

Spindleberries

So what inspires you?

It’s over to you. Please do comment below and we can inspire one another.

My next post will be on the third definition of ‘inspiration’: ‘A Sudden Clever Idea’.