Saturday, February 15, 2014

Inspired By Your Surroundings.

One of the downsides of being a full-time work-at-home employee for my day job is that by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m really rather tired of being stuck inside my house. My home office, which used to be my writing refuge, has by and large become an oversized cubicle, and by Saturday I’m tired of looking at it.

So, when I’m ready to sit down and write for a short while, and particularly after I’ve been working on the current novel project for a bit, I’m increasingly turning to alternative venues. The local branch of the public library is almost always my first choice. It’s close and quiet, and there’s just something about sitting among all those rows of bookshelves that almost always succeeds in kick-starting my writing motor.

And then, there are those places you visit which end up inspiring your writing. Parks, museums, art galleries, historical sites, ball parks and famous or unusual buildings have all fed the muse at one time or another. For me, such a place is Union Station here in Kansas City. Celebrating its 100th birthday later this year, the station had largely been closed for many years due to deterioration and dwindling train passenger traffic. After a massive restoration and renovation effort, it reopened in 1999 as both a train station and an entertainment destination, with restaurants, shops, a movie theater, a youth-focused science museum, and spaces for traveling museum exhibits.

I fell in the love with the station the first time I set foot inside it. Along with our Liberty Memorial and World War I Museum which sits just across the street, it’s long been my favorite city location to visit, and I always encourage friends visiting for the first time to check out both landmarks. You’re welcome for the plug, Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association. As for the station itself, it has many areas where visitors can sit and watch the world go by, including a great open café right in the middle of its vast “Grand Hall.” I’ve availed myself of that cozy little eatery on numerous occasions, enjoying my lunch while writing or editing a manuscript.

Once, just to see if I could do it because I had decided to write a story for submission to a local magazine, I sat myself at a table with the “task” of writing from scratch a story set there at the station. A few hours, one lunch and several glasses of tea later, I had a near-complete first draft of what ended up becoming "Absent Friends," which I eventually sold to that magazine. Since then, the station has continued to serve as a place where I can go and immerse myself in my writing.

So, when you’re looking to escape from home so that you can write for a bit in relative peace, or because you're hunting for inspiration, where do you go?


Neil A. Waring said...

I also like to find interesting places to read. Writing, I like my chair and my own writing space at home. By the way - I have visited Union Station in KC, fabulous.

Liane Spicer said...

There's a coffee shop in a shopping centre a couple miles from my home and I find it conducive to writing despite the incessant roar of the blenders. My usual place is my bedroom, in the dead of night, when the rest of the household is fast asleep. Hoping to spend a writing weekend during the carnival break next month at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. The problem with this plan is I might never want to leave there.

G. B. Miller said...

When the weather is warm and/or tolerable (which for CT is March thru October) I love to sit in my backyard or side yard to write. I live next door to a small mountain, and it often affords me the peace and quiet that I need to write.

Well, enough peace that you can get with birds singing in the background.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have quite the opposite experience. After commuting two and a half hours a day to work and spending many hours there, when the weekend comes I often just want to spend it in my office. Unfortunately, my wife often wants to spend it out and about.

Dayton Ward said...

We're getting set to relocate to a new Ward Manor, and I've figured out how I will contain my day job work space so that it's separate from where I might/will write. The new location also is within walking distance to a nice park and other alternate venues, so getting a change of scenery will now be easier.

Plus, it's five minutes from where my wife works, which means more opportunities for lunch together. :)

Jewel Amethyst said...

My writing space is anywhere I can get a few minutes of quiet (too often in the bathroom). Sometimes it's at my kids' sports activities with screaming folks around. But I like writing at parks. There is a certain calm about an open space with a few people playing or jogging in the background that gets my juices flowing.