Creative Inspirational Wisdom: From Where or What Do You Draw Inspiration?

This week, Lois Batchelor Howard personifies poetic inspiration in a rural location.


I am blessed or cursed.  I don’t know which.  Perhaps both.  If I describe my living on a farm, that will possibly explain why or how I write.  I’ll give it a go.


Every time I look behind the house or the barn, for that matter, I see them there or I see them coming.  Actually, they’ve been coming for a long time.  They’re odd things: sometimes strange, always different, fascinating somehow. They’re always there, it seems. Grandma Bryce might have called them “wonderful pains,” like she described the aches in her legs that would not go away.


They have me caught; I know that.


When I’ve had the courage, I’ve asked my neighbors. Funny… they don’t see them, and they give me looks like I give a field of corn that for no reason I can figure out has suddenly stopped growing. Or is it the look I feel when it’s harvest time and the combine has broken down? Maybe it’s more like I’m asking ’em to an opera and they know that I know, more than the smell of bundled hay in the early dew of dawn, that they love country music. Whatever. I can’t pinpoint the look, but I’ve felt it before; it’s not a stranger to me. It’s kind of “puttin’ up with,” and it unsettles me some, but not enough to stop seeing those things.


They sit atop the trees on the horizon by Nelson Rathbun’s place, and they often shoot right out of the setting sun or the rising sun. I see lots of both, but there are more chores in the mornings.  They ride the backs of cows. Sometimes they get the chickens clucking and squawking, and the hogs squalling and the dogs barking, runnin’ around in frenzied circles, the horses bolting their heads sideways, restlessly shifting their weight back and forth in closed stalls.


Yes, these things have found me. They are powerful things, I tell you. I know I said it before, but it seems they are always here. Sometimes they’re in my boots when I go to put ’em on in the morning or they stick to my high-tops after a heavy rain, when I’ve had to gluck trough-deep in mud.  At times, they even leap out in the black of night. They’re here, all right, and—how does the expression go?  They must have seen me coming!  Or I, them.


I could use a lot of fancy words, maybe. Straight of it is, we get along. Oh, sometimes I put ‘em off, but mostly I grin and welcome them in. You don’t get that much company with all this land around and the houses so far apart. I don’t even always treat them to electricity; sometimes I light an old oil lamp and over the oilcloth table cover, shadows visiting on the walls, we sit down together. I rustle up some hot tea and biscuits and blank papers, set the ink jar down, and dip my quill into the ink that somehow reminds me of the clear spring water trickling down near the pond at the top of the hill. But I’m getting’ off the subject, in a way, and I’m repeatin’ myself. I tend to do that. My listeners keep reminding me that I do, but you do what ya gotta do.


“Friend-Things,” I say, “What poems do you have for me today?” and as they keep prattling on, which is our way when we’re together, I write. Oh, sometimes we take a break and check the larder or the root cellar. They tell me that’s why they come, and sometimes we gaze out over the acres and know there’s a lot of promise in that old Spring earth, buds of words and greens sproutin’ up all over… Why, those things now, out there again, dancin’, like they own the place.


They’ve been lookin’ over my shoulder, and they say they like readin’, that I draw inspiration from livin’ here on the farm and listenin’ to them. Gotta’ give credit where credit is due.


Like many of you, Lois Batchelor Howard likes to write. She admits she is possessed! She graduated from the University of Michigan in Music (pipe organ) and through years of rich musical experiences, the music of words became her favorite music. Gratefully, she is a much-published and award-winning author, and she loves being a Pen Woman.  A longtime member of La Jolla Branch, she served as its president for five years.  After moving to Desert Hot Springs, Lois now enjoys being a member of the Palm Springs Branch NLAPW. 


“Working Barn” by Maggie Smith /


OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES IS ENDING SOON: Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts or artwork for our two series, Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business, up until Thursday, August 31st, 2017. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!



  1. Tracy Myers says

    Lois Dear…
    That is just the best! I know I enjoyed reading the blog as much, if not more, than every one of your poems! On a teeny, tiny scale, I too see them there! You made me realize why I want a home in the mountains so badly. It’s because of the quiet…nature doing its thing…not needing us at all. That’s when I see them. My bulldogs help me see them too… as you know, so many of my poems are about them.

  2. Mary Jo Balistreri says

    My dear Lois,

    Such music that it spill over onto the page until the music and the words create a greater whole.
    How talented you are and inspirational in how you use your gifts to better the world with your stories.
    A Shout Out for Lois.

    • Lois Batchelor Howard says

      Jo, you always make me feel as if I’m cloud hopping! I think of you as the mistress of poetry AND prose, so your words always mean so very, very much to me. Deepest and warmest thanks, dearest Jo. YOUR writings flow with music. Please send me more… With special love, Lois

  3. Oh Lois! I love this article, I really do! It is you! Somehow, in a few hundred words you have managed to explain exactly what happens when inspiration comes flying through the window or sauntering through the door – you put it so simply, yet it is so profound. I am in awe of your talent Lois. You are a True Poet – speaking from the heart – simply – which is always the most difficult way to write – and truthfully – which all writing should portray. You are becoming my favourite modern poet. How lucky PEN Women is to know you and to be able to share your wonderful talent. An ardent fan – Anne.

    • Lois Batchelor Howard says

      Anne, this is fun! I can (and do) say all of those nice words back to you. YOU are one of my favorite writers. Your novels keep me turning pages quickly. I am so looking forward to your next book which will be out in the Fall, THE THIRD LEAP. It is a movie in the making. I know we’ll keep sharing our poetry and short stories. It’s a perfect friendship! and I love it and you… Much, me

  4. Lois Batchelor Howard says

    Sara, YOUR words touched me! Thank you, thank you. It’s fun to share our “music,” isn’t it? I know I’m repeating your words, but you have surely brought joy to my day…and ON. How I appreciate your taking the time to bring smiles to others, I gratefully one of them…and because my life has been ‘mostly music,’ I especially liked your reference to music in the words. You play an instrument and/or sing? Warms, Lois

  5. Dianne Glass MacNair says

    One of the most fascinating pieces I’ve ever read. I couldn’t wait to get to the next sentence, next paragraph. I read it, then read it again, again. Still the same power and wonderment filled my mind and captured my soul. I wanted to go where you were, they were.

    I hope to meet you someday and just say face to face, “you inspire and delight me”. You have reawakened my creative energy. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lois Batchelor Howard says

      Dianne, ’tis you who inspires me. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but your words brought tears to my eyes. Wouldnt that be fun, to meet someday. What branch are you in? I hope to be able to print your ‘comment.’ It will daily inspire me!! Thank you, thank you…and now how may I read your writings?
      Warmly, Lois

  6. Sara Etgen-Baker says

    there is music in your words. I could feel the music and the rhythm as I progressed through your beautiful piece. Thanks for bringing joy to my day and for sharing your inspiration. Your words touched me.