During the winter of 2020-2021 the Just Write Virtual Writing Group was just beginning to come together as a community. At the time we were inspired by the Hamilton lyrics “I wrote my way out” found in “Hurricane” and summed up in this mashup. While that overarching theme inspired us in many ways, it was in fact the theme of cartography that has continued to inform our writing more than a year later and so we chose to revisit this idea recently.

Cartography is the study and practice of making maps but we found the idea of combining science, aesthetics, and technique to build on the premise that reality (or an imagined reality) can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively a fascinating focus for our thinking and writing. The history of cartography offers much inspiration especially the practice of ancient cartographers to use monsters to indicate the unknown dangers of uncharted territories. But there is much personal writing that can come out of this exploration. I have often used mapmaking in the past to inspire writing drawing from both Georgia Heard’s Heart Maps and Sara Fanelli’s My Map book.

In addition to the idea of cartography and the dangers of uncharted territories, we also drew inspiration from these poems:

Now write your own way out by mapping your life, mapping your dreams, or mapping your territory. How do maps and mapmaking inspire you?