A few weeks ago, I attended my first farmer’s market. The trip was the brainchild of a dear friend and was maybe the most “Fall” 24 hours I’ve ever experienced. We left unbearably early, dressed in flannel and boots and scarves. We had hot tea and big grins and were only a cowboy with a ranch to save away from starring in our own Hallmark Channel movie.
As we walked through a crowd of farmers, city folk, hipsters, and hippies, I could not help but feel as if we were indeed in that Hallmark Channel movie. It was so bizarre to stand inside a stereotypical scene and yet, live and breathe as my true self. The air was cool, full of the scent of baking bread, the sound of competing musicians, and a sense of familiarity, freedom, and friendliness. This was not mall shopping at Christmastime. This was polite, open people (both customer and vendor) and an unbearable rainbow of fruits, flowers, peppers, and fresh-made foods. I could not shake the idea of Which came first, the movie or the market? because the live version felt so true.
Eventually, my writer brain answered that it didn’t matter. If writers are inspired by life, or if the festivals are inspired by curated ideals, they are still real.
And that’s when I started to really enjoy myself.
I strolled through that market with an open mind and a sense of awe like that of a child. Even though it was my first time at a farmer’s market, I’d been to festivals and flea markets. But only as a consumer. An occasional artist. Not since I’d become a writer.
I took in everything, heeding the advice I’d heard so often. I soaked in sights and sounds and smells. I cooed at the leashed doggies and touched the knit gloves. I sniffed every candle and coffee and breathed in the baking bread. I let that market be the conduit to my imagination store, collecting the atmosphere for every book I would ever write. What it was like to be surrounded by friendly strangers, people who politely kept their distance until the moment you asked otherwise. How each person was so entirely “in character” in the midst of so much personality. The overwhelming of my senses, the way it freed my mind.
I bought flowers to later place in view of my writing desk. I browsed craft booths. I drank cider. I lived that market the way it was meant to be lived.
I brought home a backseat full of produce, but most of all, what came from it was an arsenal of inspiration. Maybe (likely) your stimulus isn’t going to come from a local farmer’s market, but somewhere, outside your office and away from your desk, is the inspiration that will help you recall what it is to encounter something for the first time. To be in awe, to see it with new eyes.
That is where your writing becomes more you. Get out there, do things that make you feel.
Remember to not just live life, but EXPERIENCE it.
Thanks for reading Writing Hacks. Let us know in the comments the last thing that brought you out of the doldrums, or inspired you to write.