Friday, February 19, 2021

Where Do My Ideas Come From? Here and There and Everywhere

What inspires a writer and gives her ideas?  Good questions for this month's bloggers.  I bet we'll get a slew of interesting answers. 

I can only tell you where my ideas comes from.  Shall we start from the beginning?  
Poetry was a genre that intrigued me when I first began writing,  A series of poems from the point of view of creatures who live in the Sonora desert were my first published poemss My parents lived in the Phoenix area, and we often visited the Sonora Desert. 
Here 's a poem from the point of view of the Diamond Back Rattlesnake.  For some reason, I liked writing from the viewpoint of many desert critters.
 The Diamond Back

 My view is of the low things: 

The leaf-cutting ant bearing a spear of green,

The faint imprint of fearful feet,

Red jasper in a dry stream.  

The Navajo weaves a harmony of diamond shapes,

But none so striking as my patterned back. 

Coiling on my rock I prize my symmetry.

The savage sun of summer drives me

To wary sleep under the mesquite. 

The gritty caliche earth against my belly

Is the feel of here. 

The sharp aroma of the creosote bush,

The scent of sun on yucca blossoms

Is the smell of here. 

I wait for the taste of here: 

The timid skittering mouse,

The nervous cottontail,

The old lizard dragging her tail.

Respect is mine. 

The shying panicked horse bucks and screams.

I observe the one in leather boots

Hiking carefully with his stick. 

The humble horned toad,

The bold scorpion avoid me. 

I get respect. 

Sleek, I slither down the gulch

In a rush of silence. 

Above the hum of bees and insects,

A snaky sound,

The gourd rhythm of my rattles disturbs the air.



 I wrote about the Charles River in Boston - My job was an easy walk from  the rivet, and when our offices were suddenly moved to the Boonies, I wrote about saying goodbye to the Charles.
 There's a small herd of HIghland Scottish cattle down the street from us, and one summer I wrote a poem about the calves.  

Calves Together

  That summer, we were calves together in the tall grass.

You came first to brown Mary Anne.

Golden Iris is my mother.

They dropped us in the tall grass.

 We grew together, gamboled together,

Licked each other, slept together,

Lay flank to flank in the tall grass.

The milk we suckled tasted of summer and green apples.

 In the heat of the day we found shade

The rain kept the flies at bay.

We frolicked in the pasture, bleating and kicking our heels,

Calves without a care.

 Glad animal spirits, nursing and nibbling the tall grass.

Drinking from the creek.

Seeking the green shade.

Calves together.



Now we segue to the novels:  What inspired them?  Mostly places:   

The Shadow Warriors: Singapore, Goettingen, Germany,

 World of Mirrors:  the Baltic Island of Ruegen, 

Festival Madness: The Burning Man Festival: and high-tech Boston

Chased By Death:  Southern Florida, Massachusetts, driving cross county,  the Nevada Desert  

Murder in the North Woods: many trips to the North Woods in Wisconsin

A sense of place always informs my work, whether it is the pasture down the road or the exoticism of Singapore. Places inspire me.   Characters come to inhabit the places, and then the characters do stuff that gets them in trouble in that place.  We're off to the races.




Let's see what my fellow bloggers have been up to  this week.  What inspires us may inspire you. 

Skye Taylor

Anne Stenhouse

Beverley Bateman

Connie Vines

Diane Bator

Dr. Bob Rich

Fiona McGier

Helena Fairfax

Marci Baun

Victoria Chatham

Judith Copek

Rhobin L Courtright





  1. I agree that places can spark stories. If one stands quietly, sometimes eyes open, sometimes shut. Welcoming The spirit of the place can bring unexpected ideas that can become stories. Sometimes it's the ambiance, sometimes the history but places always have stories to tell if we listen.

  2. Places can be so evocative. Maybe it's their history or maybe it's their ambiance. Smart girl, being open and listening and then going home to write them down.

  3. Enjoyed your poems! Interesting how you were inspired. And yea, place is very important in stories, and even inspirational.

  4. I love your poems and their unusual POVs. What fun to be inspired by so many places! Do you get to visit? Or are you like me forced to research on the internet, books, and anywhere else you can glean information for information to fuel the brain matter and descriptions?

  5. Wow! You've gone to so many interesting places! I've only read about the Burning Man festival--and I've never left the country--I don't even have a passport! But the North woods of WI? I'm your gal, since we've camped up there so much.

    I don't pick the setting first--I let the characters "tell" me where they are, once the story gets going in my head. But we all have our muse telling us what to write. And there is no one right way--they're all right!

  6. I agree that places can be very evocative - sometimes it's the ambiance- spooky, quiet, busy etc- or sometimes it's the shear beauty. I know the Charles River well and can imagine saying goodbye might trigger a poem.

  7. I agree that places can be very evocative - both for stories and poems. I know the Charles well - grew up north of Boston and loved hanging out in the city. I can see why saying goodbye to it would inspire a poem.

  8. Interesting that you get your ideas from places, but I can see how that would work. A strong sense of place is essential in a story to help the reader feel anchored in that world.

  9. I don't normally enjoy poetry, but loved your two samples. It's great being in a different body, an different reality! Perhaps you should write novels from an animal's POV.

  10. I agree that places can create ideas and characters for novels and short stories.

  11. Hi Judith, thank you for posting your lovely poems. I know houses inspire story in me, so I can readily see why you feel the same about places. anne


Your comments are always welcome!