Rolling hills, steep gullies and fields

Place makes a difference in stories.

I’ve been inspired to write mysteries every time I visit Galena, Illinois. It’s not just the mid-19th century rebuilding of an early-19th century town that fascinates me. It’s also the roads I take to get there — the rolling hills and steep gullies always make the drive new to me. I love getting to Stockton and seeing the land dip and open on the west side of town. And then arriving in Elizabeth, with another surprise vista and a curve that — for a brief moment — reminds me of the hazards early settlers faced. And in that, I include the earliest settlers, the nomadic early Americans who followed buffalo, built burial mounds and peopled the region long before my European ancestors even knew the place existed.

I have also been inspired by the vast, flat black soil around the Illinois town where I grew up. Fields that grew corn, peas, asparagus and pumpkins surrounded my home town, a kind of cocoon holding us all together. And those miles of even landscape led me to believe — naively, I know now — that people were also level, the same, with the same opportunities and resources.

The land makes a difference.

For another perspective, take a look at this old post from Writing Rural.


Worth a rhyme

I never heard of Kate Warne before I saw this Women’s History Month post from a Library of Congress blog. She was a Pinkerton woman. What a great prompt for someone in a slump. Women’s History Month (and National Reading Month) ended yesterday and Poetry Month starts today. This woman deserves at least a sonnet.
Celebrating Women’s History: America’s First Female P.I. | Library of Congress Blog

Free your verse

When it comes to poetry, I tend to write at long intervals. It is the one form for which I await inspiration before I begin. That’s a clear sign of a dabbler, I think.  Here are some suggestions for more serious poets. Or writers of prose who want to bring something lyrical to their work.

The Work of Inspiration: Five Pieces about Poetry | Longreads Blog