16 Nov Writing Out of Place

Putting Flesh on the Bones

Occasionally I spend a week with a writing group to explore new territory – both geographical and imaginary. A few years ago I joined Sharon Blackie and Rosella Angwin in Scotland on a writing retreat exploring our connection to the wild.

On these weeks I meet inspirational fellow writers and develop a new body of work. But am I alone in wanting something more from it:- a group of people who might collectively produce writing that explores our relationship to the non-human world and communicates its importance in new and creative ways. Perhaps we achieve this by returning to our individual lives and using what we have experienced.

On that cold week in Scotland we agreed on some shared objectives. We agreed that our writing would be more than descriptive; something must change as a result. Our writing would celebrate the beauty and the joy of the natural world and acknowledge what we have now; it would explore the role of myths and culture in shaping views and attitudes.

But we believed we need new myths and stories to highlight current ecological issues and encourage more people to care. We need to re-unite the head and the heart; link science and art. We need rage and celebration.

Looking back on the three years that have passed since the retreat, I find that writing about nature and landscape has become fashionable with new titles coming out every month. Are we any closer to creating those new myths that will embed nature into our human nature? And has anything changed?

The report of the 2013 writing workshop at Moniack Mhor appears on my Portfolio page