Where in the wild world do you go for inspiration?
Creatively, I bear the imprint of western North America: the blue mountains and
long, dry sagebrush valley between, where I was born and live. But my inspiration
lives in the human distancebetween our self-consciousness and all else, between
knowing and words, between me and you as you read this.
C. L. Rawlins, author of Broken Country: Mountains and Memory
Islands rejuvenate my imagination and energy. Nova Scotia, Guadeloupe, Eleuthera,
Monheganit almost doesn't matter which. They all represent isolation and loss.
On the edge of the rainforested sheer cliffs of Dominica, the surf pounds the
stone. It eats acres each year. At the inlet to Beaufort, North Carolina, the
sharp tides tear away the sandy sides of the barrier islands. Such erosion fills
my writer's well and makes me hungry for life. The same tides nibble at all our
lives, telling us to look now, discover now, create now before it's gone. Islands
remind me that this whole earth is an islandlapped by the cold tides of space.
M. Garrett Bauman, Monroe Community College,
Rochester, New York
For a writer, probably nothing inspires like a blank page or screen and a
deadline. But for revitalization, the natural world in its many manifestations is
essential. I've found refreshment in myriad places, from the Colorado Rockies,
where I spend my summers, to the peaceful, kaleidoscopic vistas of a coral reef.
Antarctica's extraordinary scenery and wildlife linger in my mind's eye, but so
do the towering trees of Indonesia's and Brazil's rainforests, the lakes and
broad plains of East Africa teeming with wildlife, arctic icebergs and Icelandic
fogs, the friendly landscapes of Scandinavia, and Australia's ancient landforms.
All stored in the memory bank to draw on at will: wealth beyond measure.
Anne Ehrlich, coauthor of The Betrayal of Science and Reason
Creativity and imagination for me spring from feelings of calm and connection,
conditions inevitably arising from my sense of relation to the land, to the
water, and above all else to other creatures. There is the exotic and
spectacularthe occasional dose of life on a grand scale that hits you like pure
adrenaline. Certainly, for me the African savanna remains the greatest show on
Earth. But on an everyday basis, I find inspiration in the "ordinary" nature of a
nearby park. This time of year my companions there are the hooded merganser, the
mallard, and the goose. Yesterday there was the mystery of the great horned owl,
and each day novel configurations of life and nonlife, and an ineffable wholeness
never quite reducible to its constituent parts.
Stephen R. Kellert, professor, Yale University School of Forestry and
Environmental Studies, and author of
The Value of Life
"Bird Island" is not really an island, just a brushy draw surrounded by hills,
woods, and swamp. Only my daughter, Beth, and I know where it is because it's our
secret place. No one can see us because of the topography. In a backpack she
carries drinks and sandwiches, and dog biscuits for the current Brittany. The
three of us sit and watch warblers rustling through budding Yankee hardwoods or
nighthawks slicing across an azure August sky or listen to frogs, jays, and
katydids or to ruffed grouse drumming in gray, green, or golden aspens.
angels in the snow, and in mud season we cut pussy willows for Beth's mom. Once
ticks crawled up our legs faster than we could pick them off. And once, on a
hushed, mild October afternoon, leaves fell straight down from 2,000 feet; we've
never figured out how they got up there. As a professional journalist, I can't
afford to wait for "inspiration," but whenever I return with Beth from Bird
Island I feel as if life is passing less swiftly and that, for a while at least,
it's OK to write.
Ted Williams writes for Audubon, Sierra,and other national publications