The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration

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Guest Post
By Gayle M. Irwin

I whipped the vehicle to the side of the road, put it into “park” and jammed on the emergency brake. I jumped out and joined about 50 other people along the bank of the Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. We watched a pair of trumpeter swans gliding gracefully through the ripples of water with six cygnets. Although I had seen swans before, rarely had I encountered so many babies with their parents. I’ve not experienced such a sight since.

I relish open spaces, like those found in Yellowstone. Public lands, from parks and forests to wildlife refuges and national monuments, provide sacred spaces to still one’s soul, open one’s heart, and inspire creativity in one’s mind. I am fortunate to live near such special places, and each visit produces a piece of writing or two from the experience.

Other landscapes can stir the imagination, too, such as community parks, botanical gardens, and picturesque farms. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells open the book of our senses and provide opportunities for creativity to flow.

Two other special outdoor spaces spark creativity for me. One is a ranch located 75 miles from my home, owned by some friends. About three times a year I travel and stay there for an extended period of time. The sage and grass-covered hills, rolling Powder River, and the distant Bighorn Mountains provide solace, and livestock and wildlife encounters bring smiles. Crimson sunrises greet me, and golden sunsets beckon sleep. The quiet relaxes me, and my friends’ generosity brings me joy. The modular guesthouse at which I stay possesses large windows from which one gazes upon the nearby fields and woods. White-tailed deer, fanned-out turkeys, and dancing sandhill cranes abound. I’ve composed many articles, short stories, and book chapters at this scenic and tranquil place.

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Another special space where creativity comes alive for me is at our remote cabin. My husband and I own mountain property just a 20-minute drive from our house. Upon the acreage sits a 540 square foot cabin – we bought a tiny house before tiny houses became popular! At 8,000 feet in elevation, the land is difficult to get to during winter, but from May to October, we spend weekends and weeknights at our six-acre forested property. We use solar panels for electricity and bask in the solitude interrupted only by hooting owls, zipping hummingbirds, and the call of foxes and coyotes. My husband constructed a wooden half-acre enclosure for our dogs to roam. He also built a free-standing deck on which to dine … or read … or write, all of which happen often. Our acreage brings us great peace, and, for me, much creativity. 

I weave nature into many of my books, including A Town Dog Named Mary Visits a Ranch and Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, two children’s books I’ve composed. My new contemporary romance series takes place in the Yellowstone area: Rescue Road is set in southwestern Montana,  Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is set near Cody, Wyoming, and my upcoming Christmas novella, titled In the Shadow of Mount Moran, takes place outside of Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming. Readers are given a taste of what this special area known as Yellowstone Country is like through the descriptions, dialogue, and drama in the stories. My primary characters relish the outdoors – just like me and my husband. Write what you know, many storytelling experts say, so I weave nature into my works.

Humans, especially writers and other creatives, need special spaces and unique places, locations that stir the heart and speak to the soul. For some, coffee shops, libraries, and high rises provide that inspiration. For others, like me, nature offers the springboard for creativity – and I treasure those special spaces and unique places.

What is your special place for inspiration?


Thanks for sharing your post, Gayle. Okay, romance addicts, check out Gayle’s latest book in the Pet Rescue Romance series, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch.

Finding Love at Compassion Ranch: A Pet Rescue Romance Novella by [GAYLE Irwin]Finding Love at Compassion Ranch
By Gayle Irwin
$9.99, 246 pp, paperback
$1.99, 162 pp. Kindle

A ranch like no other …Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs. Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as the ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fences and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary. Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again?


About Gayle Irwin

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming author and freelance writer and a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her inspirational stories for children and adults teach valuable life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, friendship, and pet rescue and adoption. She recently released the second book in her clean, contemporary romance series called Pet Rescue Romance. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is a tale of second chances, for the people and the rescued animals. Learn more about Gayle and her writing endeavors at her website http://www.gaylemirwinauthor.com or Amazon Author Page: www. amazon.com/author/gayleirwin

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