Writing Nature: Presentation and Workshop Samples
The Dangers of Hugging Trees
A comparison of differences and similarities between ecologically-oriented creative nonfiction and general fiction. How close to the environment can an author, and by extension an author’s characters, go in each without fracturing a reader's innate (as well as well-earned) sense of distrust?
We’ll discuss challenges and rewards in the abstract, then follow up with specific examples. Please bring for discussion (or e-mail me beforehand) your own examples of the work of others (fiction or nonfiction) where the borderline is neared and where a piece succeeds or fails, because of that.
Omen-Gathering and Other Ways to Find Inspiration in Nature
The natural world offers a vast ground of inspiration for our writing, but most of us are so busy whizzing around at breakneck speed or sitting for hours in front of our computers that we could use a little help reconnecting with it. This hands-on presentation offers techniques for slowing down, opening up, and paying real attention to nature. Any time we give mindful attention to something—whether it’s a blade of grass or a vista of sand and sea—something worthwhile is revealed, and since we see through a unique filter, what we notice always tells us something about who we are. The resulting information is writers’ gold.
Together, we’ll practice the ancient Celtic art of omen-gathering, finding a personal message of guidance for our current project. We’ll spend a few moments of what Joanna Macy calls “Deep Time,” gathering an object from nature and discovering its significance for our writing process. We’ll also explore methods of keeping a nature journal and other exercises for infusing our nature-writing with more immediacy and intensity of expression.
Christian McEwen and Mark Statman, editors, The Alphabet of the Trees: A Guide to Nature Writing
Lorraine Anderson, Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry about the Earth
Mark Coleman, Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery
Tom Cowan, Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life
Mark Tredinnick, ed., The Land’s Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest Williams, and James Galvin
Workshops that are planned to be offered:
Writing about Place & Travel
Writing the natural world, Urban nature and other kinds of Environments