Writing Tip: Download Images from Your Memory Bank

Where is the best place to download images for your articles or blog? Today, we download images from the internet, Wikipedia, Google, stock photography sites, public domain sites, etc. May I suggest that one of the best places to download images is from your memory bank. That’s right, let your memory find the image you need, then turn to the internet to search for what you see in your mind’s eye.

For example, a few years ago I was writing a story originally entitled, “Reflections of Summer.” The premise of the article was to describe why my most meaningful summer vacations were spent with my family from the South. But my challenge was to find a single poignant image that would best symbolize the South, and more importantly, my deep emotional connection to it.

Instead of using the internet for an image search, I searched my memory bank to download mental images of the South that resonated with me.

Take a walk with me. I’ll show you where my memories took me. When you search your memory bank there are no rules. Let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. Just give it a starting point. For me, I started on the road just outside my grandma’s house in small town America; Leonard, Missouri.

As you walk with me, think about how you can capture crisp images for your articles or blog by downloading your memory bank. Ready to take a walk?


 A warm feeling washes over me as I walk down this dusty gravel road near my father’s birthplace. The fresh scent of summer is in the air. I love being here. I’ve always loved being here but never sure why. Yes, my father’s family is here, but there’s more, something unique. I feel like I’m in a time warp. Time slows down here. Life seems simpler, but I know better. My family farms, so life is anything but simple. But for me, when I’m here, life is slower, richer, more meaningful and less complicated.

As I shuffle through the gravel, I pass a road sign: “Leonard, Missouri, Population 103.” It occurs to me that grandma was easily the oldest resident here. Ironically, she died at 103. I pass an abandoned hotel. In the 30 years I’ve vacationed here I never remember it being open. 

I pass the only gas station in town. Local boys are sitting on worn kitchen chairs adjacent to the pumps playing cards over a barrel. They wave as if they know me. I’ve never seen them before but it doesn’t matter. I dip my head. Up the road is the only restaurant in town, the only grocery store in town and, of course, the only post office in town.

I walk past a creek, a plank bridge and a few pastures to my aunt and uncle’s farm. I pause and remember what I did here almost every summer during my childhood:  horseback riding, building campfires, fishing, chasing chickens, running the bacon clean off the pigs and having my brother and sister chase me into the hen house while on horseback. (Topsy was a good horse, however, easily led astray.)

A pick-up truck drives by. He beeps, smiles and waves. I don’t know him. I don’t need to, it’s the South after all. It occurs to me that even my relative’s names seem to echo the past, a simpler time and a friendly place: Chester, Velma, Peb, Elsie, Lee, Mildred, Eddie, Roger and Vicki.

As I walk back to grandma’s house I hear the shrill of cicadas from the treetops. The crickets begin to greet nightfall. The stars are in full array. As I approach her house I find her waiting for me on the porch. “You were out for a walk were ya,” she says with a smile, “Well, that’s alright now.”

As she gently sways back and forth I suddenly realize I found the image I’m looking for to symbolize the South and serve as my metaphor for a simpler life.

I later write the story and change the working title from “Reflections of Summer” to “The Porch Swing.”


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Blogs will be posted every Thursday.

Leave a comment or you may reach me at:  jcmchips1@yahoo.com.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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