Inspired Places

As most of you know already, I’m hugely inspired by nature. But everyday life inspires me as much. So, I’ve decided to reminisce about one of my interests, travel. Below are some of the places that had inspired my writings.

1. I Woke Up in Africa

The Heart of Johannesburg’s Downtown

The title is one of many poems I’ve written about inequality that still persists in my home country, SA. I’ve also experimented with short stories and pieces of creative nonfiction inspired by this city.

2. The Lost Diary

Prague, the best-preserved city

Years ago, my husband and I visited Prague. Let’s just say, it’s easy to fall in love with this city. It is beautiful. So, inspired by all sorts during our visit, I wrote furiously on my diary but only to lose it, later. In any case, Prague is one of those cities that warrants more than one visit. And The Lost Diary is a story I still have to write.

3. Presumption

Warszawa by Night

I wrote on a different blog years ago about how we ended up stranded in Warszawa; an incident that saw us sleep at the train station. It’s a funny story, actually. 🙂 But that story I later compressed into a very short poem.

4. Winter Dream

Ruka Ski Resort, Kuusamo

Winter Dream is one of many poems I’ve written about Finnish winter. But on a different subject and season, as we approach summer I can’t help but wonder how the holidays are going to look and feel like with the pandemic still lingering in the air.

5. The Distorted View

An autobiographical novel (yet to be published) came out of this place I called home and a huge part of my childhood. Of course, the inspiration to write the story was much more than just about a place.

My countryside childhood home, now in ruins

That’s a quick peek at some of my travel-inspired writings. You’ve probably noticed that the photos are not touristy but rather mundane. That’s because mood of a place is one of the things that fascinates me. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to experience different moods in one place.

But over to you, have you written a story or book about a place? If so, where can we find it? Also feel free to share what you are reminiscing about these days? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and blogger. Her blog focuses on poetry and creative nonfiction, and also features poets and their books.

24 Comments

  1. We had friends from back east who lived in Prague for some time, and loved it. I’ve been told Czech is one of the hardest languages to learn, but I have no experience with that.

    We are in the busy season of the farm here, with never enough hours in the day. Time is passing at warp speed. 🙂

  2. How fortunate for your friends to have lived in this beautiful city! About the Czech language, I don’t know much either about being the hardest to learn. But on our visit, we picked up some familiar words that were written and pronounced the same in Finnish.

    Oh yes, country living or farm life can be busy during sowing and harvesting seasons. But how fulfilling, when all that work is done! I confess, I’d rather be in the countryside myself right now and busy with something fruitful instead of counting lockdown days. Enjoy the season, Lavinia! 🙂

  3. I don’t think I’ve written so much about a place as ground some of my stories in places I was familiar with. I think as I explore the Yuukiverse more, the idea of place is going to take a much larger role because of some of the themes I’m exploring.

    What am I reminiscing on? LOL, travel actually- my vacation last year with my husband to San Francisco. I’m glad we were able to have that time especially since this year’s anniversary is going to be more low-key.

  4. You certainly have a way with creating a sense of place in your writing, more so in your book of short stories and even though imaginary worlds. Your Yuukiverse sounds intriguing, looking forward to reading it at some point.

    And yes, so good to know I’m not the only one reminiscing about travel. 🙂 Once again, congrats on your anniversary and enjoy your low-key celebration!

  5. I recently read a review of a friend’s book where the reader listed the setting of the story–a version of the author’s hometown–as a failing. I read the review a few times, trying to make sense of how sharing one’s experiences and feelings of a place could be bad. I still don’t get it. In fact, I’m quite sure I never will get that reader’s reasons. As your post suggests, the places we visit, the things we believe in feed the stories we write and make them stronger… make them real. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy your words so much.

  6. It’s so interesting to see the places that have inspired you. My parent’s loved Prague. My travels add up to the equivalent of the tree and horse, Lol. But someday…

  7. Oh, I love this, Khaya. What a wonderful idea you had to write about your travels in this way. And I love the honest, not touristy, pics. They tell a more real story of a place. I “woke up” in the US state of Georgia, where – as we see so vividly in the news lately – inequality and hate still deeply abound. Many painful and complicated feelings about this being the place of my origin and still the home of people I love and worry about. All of our experiences are different, I know, and it is not my intention to compare. But I hope you publish that autobiographical novel. I would love to feel into your thoughts and observations about the place where you “woke up.”

  8. I can’t get what the reviewer was implying with “the setting of the story as a failing”…*baffled* I have though come across readers who didn’t like how a place was portrayed, and they usually point to lack of research. But I fail to see that this would be a case for a writer writing about their own hometown. Just goes to show it’s impossible to please everyone.

    And many thanks Maga for that last part of your comment. I’m super pleased to hear you enjoy these things about my writings, and that they make sense. 🙂

  9. Ha…ha! I’d serious love to read a story by you titled, “The Tree and Horse” How’s that for inspiration! 😀 I’m glad to hear your parents enjoyed their visit to Prague as well. It’s really so easy to fall in love with this city. It’s even kinder on a traveller’s wallet, even though I hear nowadays that prices are slowly catching up to other European counterparts.

  10. You know… of all the images… the last one, of your home place is most impressive and to me inspiring! Beautiful. Maybe because I also feel a distant yearning for the Eastern Cape or Transkei… whichever you prefer? (I think it will always be both for me… )

  11. Thank you, H. You’re so kind. I would love to see this novel published too. But you know how the querying process goes. I recently listened to a podcast about “publishing in times of COVID-19”, and it left me with mixed feelings; almost despondent.

    Btw, I like comparing notes/experiences with other writers. 🙂 Because sometimes this reveal how our similar our preoccupations, even when our worlds are far apart. It is sad though to witness the persistent inequality. And one wonders, will there ever be an end to it! Once again, thanks for dropping by. I appreciate!

  12. Thank you, Vossie. That place holds lots of childhood memories. And yes, it will always be both for me too. But the novel is written from Transkei’s point of view. 🙂

  13. I like your photographs, I like your words.
    I have never visited Prague but several friends of mine have and they enjoyed their visits very much.
    Sorry you lost your diary there … perhaps one day soon you may visit again.

    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

  14. Oh yes! When this lockdown is over, I’m looking forward to travelling again. Who knows, Prague might be just one of those places I visit! 🙂 Thanks Jan, and have a lovely day!

  15. I should check out those works. Some of my books involve real life locales. The first book I wrote for a younger demographic Global Guru Elisha takes place in Hanover Park, IL (a Northern suburb of Chicago). My Hollandus Landing series involves an international cast. Despite taking place in a fictional city in Wisconsin, I have characters from different parts of America, Monaco, Macau, Peru, England, Serbia, and even Zambia to name a few.

  16. Having read a book in your Hollandus Landing series, I agree it has a strong sense of place. And that’s impressive demonstration your diverse characters. Many a times as writers (and even visual artists I’ve observed) we tend to base characters on people who look like us.

  17. I wondered if you read Hollandus Landing already. Wow, that just made my day because I rarely get feedback from others about my books. Thank you so much! Yeah, I wanted to do some worldbuilding to make it feel like a real place even with the more sci-fi elements that occur later on. Diversity and positive ethnic representation are very important to me. Whenever I write a character outside of my ethnic background (in case you’re wondering, I’m black/white mixed), I ask people I know if I’m doing justice with this character or not. It’s also been fun expanding in the Hollanduscosm with all these characters and plots.

  18. You’re so welcome, Curtis. And thanks for sharing a bit about you. 🙂 About diversity and positive representation, they should be important to every writer. And yes, it can be tricky to write outside one’s ethnicity, race or culture. But keep writing and have fun, while at it!

  19. No problem, Khaya! I’m happy to have some readers. Any favorite characters in Hollandus Landing?

    Well said. It really should be important for writers. I also enjoy learning about other cultures and countries. Certainly helps growing up and being exposed to multiple aspects of Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego especially the game show. Hahaha! Thanks for the encouragement. 😀

  20. LOL. Interesting places, Khaya. Me, I have never stepped out of Ghana, well except when I was in Sixth Form and I traveled to Abidjan by road, with my uncle to spend the holidays. He was then lecturing at the University in Abidjan. 🙂

  21. LOL, Celestine! Well, travelling has become so cumbersome nowadays. I understand and I also know a number of people, who prefer to travel locally, that is, within the borders of own country. Luckily, we have books to transport us to places we might never visit. That for me is the greatest joy of reading. 🙂

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