Writing Nature


I’ve finished studying Creative Writing at MA level. The dissertation is handed in so just got to wait for the results…

It’s always exciting to finish a long project and start thinking about how to use newly acquired skills and writing ideas. In the past I’ve written poetry and done some screen writing but mainly focused on novels. I chose to do a module entitled Writing in the Environment, at University. This transported me into the world of nature writing and I voraciously read my way through lists of inspiring books. I discovered a new favourite author in Robert Macfarlane, particularly loving his novel: The Wild Places. Other notable titles were Amy Liptrot’s: The Outrun and Sara Maitland’s: A Book of Silence. 

I had never written non-fiction before and was enthusiastic to try; although I have to say I wasn’t inspired to write about cities. My dissertation gradually evolved into a nature memoir. I grew up in the seventies so spent many days exploring the local outdoors and had a wealth of connections to write about. I returned to places from my childhood to see how they’d changed and found myself at the end of an alley with an overwhelming feeling of deja vu. For a brief moment I was my eight-year-old self hurtling along the grass-lined path on my chopper. I walked around churchyards, past boarded up shops, over pristine stiles that replace the ones I climbed before. Certain places were impossible to re-visit due to distance or building work, so I travelled to them in my mind. After a while the memories came so thickly that I was often chasing across the countryside in dreams. As an adult my priorities are obviously different. Now I have the patience to stand for twenty minutes watching a chaffinch through my binoculars. I stop on walks to jot down the colours and scents of wildflowers, look up species of moth and take photographs of delicious views.

The other thing I’ve honed through study in the last year is less emotional attachment to the editing process. I can make brutal cuts and drastic changes to my text knowing that it’s an essential part of the process and nothing written is ever a waste of time.

I had planned a trip to Scotland to delve into ancestral landscape but sadly that has been put on hold until next year. A year of intense study has left me poor in finances but rich in ideas. I have plumbed the well and retrieved buckets of material to keep me busy writing through the winter months to come.


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