Elusive Inspiration Part 2: Seeking Memories

It’s been five years, and I’m still trying to perfect my recipe for an earl grey latte.

It sounds so easy. Tea. Milk. Sweetener (I like honey). Lavender, if you’re feeling it (which I usually am). But it’s the proportions that get me. Even after so many tries, I still haven’t quite gotten it right. I’ve looked at recipes online, but they’re all too sweet or too milky. This is a tea latte – I want to taste the tea!

I may be picky, but it’s because once you make the right earl grey latte, it’s one of the best-tasting things in the entire world. I know, because I’ve tasted the perfect earl grey latte from this pop-up coffee stand that used to be at the farmer’s market in the city where I went to college. Five years gone, and I still remember that first sip. The warmth. The smoothness. The subtle sweetness. I realised in that moment that I’d never really had an earl grey latte until that moment – and I’ve never had one like it since.

How much time do we spend in our lives trying to relive memories? We perfect recipes, perform family traditions, recreate old photos, go on anniversary trips. It just goes to show you how important our memories are – and you never know when one of those memories is at hand.

So if memories are so inspiring to us, why not seek them out?

We didn’t realise we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.

A.A. Milne

Inspiration just sounds difficult, doesn’t it? It’s got a nice fancy word and everything. But, as I just pointed out, it’s not hard to be inspired. It gets even worse when you add the word “writing” in front of it. Inspiration? Okay, I’ve got that. Writing inspiration? Run for the hills!!!

I think the root of the problem is we tend to think of “inspiration” and “writing inspiration” as two separate things. But why should they be? Why can’t our best memories, the ones we try to recreate, also inspire our writing?

In my previous post about writing inspiration, I talked about some different things that I find inspiring and often recommend others to try when they’re looking for inspiration. But in this post, I’m going to zoom in on just one of the things I talked about briefly in the last post:

Do something new.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of this recently, especially with the pandemic still looming over us. If you’re anything like me (an introvert), you’ve probably gotten comfortable in this little sheltered life, staying at home and finding new significance in things you used to take for granted like cooking with family, baking, playing games, and making giant blanket forts. And while that’s fantastic, in order to make those inspiring memories, we need to seek out new things, new experiences. Yes, it’s quite a bit more difficult currently, but it can still be done. Here’s how.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I believe that everyone has an art admirer in them somewhere. You may not be an “art person,” you may not know all the great artists and paintings, but if you can appreciate beauty, then I think you can appreciate art.

Art galleries, especially local ones, are really neat. You get to see a whole slew of different styles and different kinds of artwork. For me, just about every piece of artwork I see is a whole bundle of inspiration in itself – but there are certain paintings that just capture you. It’s different for every person. I’ve seen Van Goghs, Picassos, Dalis, Rembrandts, Da Vincis, and more, but no piece of art has captured me in exactly the same way as Art Lover – Tired Museum Feet by Stevan Dohanos. (For image copyright reasons, I can’t post the picture here, but this page contains Dohanos’ works with the piece in question at the top!) I can’t even tell you exactly what gets me about it! I just love it. Seeing that painting is a memory that has inspired my writing countless times.

Any kind of museum, whether full of art or not, is a great place to get some inspiration. You get to see things that you’d probably never interact with otherwise and you learn a whole lot about history and the world around us.

Even right now, art galleries and museums are still relatively safe places to visit, as most require masks to be worn inside and usually aren’t overpopulated anyways. One of my favourite things about these places is that you get to wander around in your own space, on your own time.

Find a Local Coffee Shop

I’ve been married for just under a year and my husband and I have only gone on one long trip together so far, but already, I bet he could tell you the three places I instantly look for when I’m in a new city.

Bookstore, coffee shop (or even better, but rarer, tea shop!!), art museum.

And I’m not knocking Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, two places I thoroughly enjoy, but there’s something very different about local bookstores and coffee shops. They just have an air of inspiration about them, and those of you who have been to these kinds of places know what I’m talking about. Each one is totally unique, a piece of art on its own, really.

I love writing in these kinds of places; the most memorable has got to be Books and Beans in Little Switzerland, North Carolina because it’s a bookstore and coffee shop and art museum! Basically, in my opinion, paradise. I can’t recommend it enough for those of you who enjoy really cool local places like this (although take note that Little Switzerland is only open at certain times of year; luckily, though, this place opens about a month earlier than everyone else!). I spent hours browsing, even more hours writing, and all the while I had great lattes and my husband was starting a fire in the fireplace (don’t worry, he asked first).

Plus, as I talked about in my previous post, writing in one of these places gets you somewhere new. When you’re dumped into new surroundings, new sights and smells, it changes the way you think and the way you write. When I have writer’s block, one of the first things I do is find somewhere like this to go write.

Explore Parks

This mainly applies to the U.S., but so many people overlook or forget about parks. We often go to them as kids, and then as we grow up, we don’t see any reason to go back.

But most parks are so much bigger than what we realise as kids! Many have long walking trails through woods, near springs, and around lakes. They usually have different trails, too, and lots of varying areas to explore. I’ve talked about how being outside inspires me, but really, I think that every writer can benefit from getting out in nature every once in a while. Many parks are a lot cooler than you realise – and you’d probably be surprised at how many are nearby if you just take a look.

So, are you feeling inspired yet?

I hope that this post gets you excited to go find that inspiration and make those memories that are so important to who we are. I encourage you to be brave and adventurous. Try new things, and you’ll be amazed at how much your imagination will run with them.

Meanwhile, I’ll be over here steaming milk for my early grey latte again. One day, I’ll finally get it right!

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Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels.

4 thoughts on “Elusive Inspiration Part 2: Seeking Memories

  1. Pingback: The Magic of Little Coffee Shops | E.J. Robison

  2. Pingback: Get out of the house. Seriously. | E.J. Robison

  3. Pingback: Human Kindness – As Told by Toilet Paper | E.J. Robison

  4. Pingback: Why Writers Should Also Be Photographers | E.J. Robison

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