San Gregorio State Beach, Half Moon Bay CA
I have been busy–busy with the holidays, busy with my baby–but I have good news! I am also busy writing. Finally! This story has percolated in my brain for months now, a new detail worked out every time I take a walk to the north of my house.
Why north? This seemed like a fluke for a while; I was determined not to make too much of it. But I have been walking 30 minutes a day every day with my baby since the summer, and it seems to be true: whenever I take a walk on the dirt roads of our rustic neighborhood, traveling south through the trees or east around the pond keeps me trapped in the arguments in my head. Walking north past the old farmhouse and on through corn fields to the vistas near the failed subdivision always results in inspiration. How odd! I think I know why, though. I just haven’t given myself permission to admit this until recently, because it seems so finicky and spoiled of me.
My husband and baby and I recently took a trip to Silicon Valley, and while there I didn’t write a single word. I couldn’t just blame it on the busyness of traveling with a baby. The truth is I freaked out a bit, several days into the trip. I was suffocating. Silicon Valley is next door to the Pacific ocean, the Santa Cruz mountains, the Sierras, the San Francisco Bay, but it is not those places. Silicon Valley itself is brand-spanking-new paved paradise: new hotels, new office parks, new luxury apartments, new grocery stores, new Mercedes and BMWs and Porsches. I have never spent such a long time away from my beautiful woods and fields, and it confirmed my suspicions. I NEED the woods and fields, and more specifically (“Finicky! Spoiled!” my brain accuses me,) I need open, quiet natural spaces to walk in. Without these things, I am stuck.
So be it. I have come a long way in the past few years toward understanding how to take care of my body and nurture my spirit, so it is time to come to terms with the fact that my spirit is in fact in need of these things. If I don’t guard this territory, I will please others (I’m so good at that!), but I will never write. I need to write. And in order to write, I really do need these fields, or an ocean view, or mountain vistas. My apologies to my husband, who has to pay for the real estate to accommodate this need. No, I don’t need these things to live, but I really do need them to write on a regular basis.
Is everyone like this? Do they realize it? Do all authors who continue to write throughout their lives have a territory they must protect in order to continue to thrive? I am curious. What is your inspiration? Where do you find it? I spent so much time assuming I was supposed to be inspired by industrial decay, like Gwen Stefani. Ha! That couldn’t be further from the truth. Last night I discovered that every patterned picture frame on my mantle has leaves on it. My rugs have leaf patterns on them. Most of the pictures on my walls are of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Adirondacks, Lake Michigan. Even my indoor spaces reach out and pull nature indoors. If you’re not sure where your inspiration comes from, try what I did: look at your walls. How have you decorated your space? This might hold a clue.