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Why I started a writing workshop, and what happened when I did

Why I started a writing workshop, and what happened when I did - Stone Pond waterfront

Posted Under: Get This
March 3, 2016

Testimonials from my first class of writers last year:

"I particularly liked the close observation and writing while we were observing. Very good advice. ... I really enjoyed it and thought you did a great job of organizing the conference. And it was so good to be back in New England." (Chris Johnson.)

"The exercises you gave us to do prompted me to go out into the world mindfully and acknowledge what was to be found around me, under my feet and above me. I met a colony of Lady Slippers as a result and spent a happy hour with them." (Joan FitzGerald.)

"What a splendid weekend it was! I found myself daydreaming a lot today, reveling in how much I enjoyed being in such a beautiful place, spending time with kind and thoughtful people, and talking about my favorite subject--writing!" (Cathy Judd.)

"Thanks for the program and people you brought together. I am so impressed with that talent and sensibilities of this group." (Claire Walden.)

I have been a writer for 35 years. Much of what I've achieved so far, I've figured out by myself. But some of what I figured out, I would have loved if someone had told me early. Mainly: Trust yourself.

Also: Those doubters are not the true voices. Go and see what you see in these woods, and be open to what ideas flow out of you then.

I feel the time is here to share what I learned the hard way with others who want to awaken their ideas. Writing from Nature is a workshop about doing, not about workshopping a finished draft.  

I spent a few decades figuring out that walking in a natural setting moves ideas out of dormancy in my brain into the oxygen of my notebook or keyboard. Doing things that have nothing to do with writing—walking on paths, poking sticks into pebbly streams, counting wildflowers, wiping pinesap off my thumbs—free up my mind to get out of its own way. In nature, I make important decisions: to leave a dead-end job, to venture into a lonely wilderness and see where it leads me, to stop a project that's wrong for me, to start one that I'd never dreamed of until the stream's harmonics drowned out my brain's doubts.

The Idea

In September 2014, I wandered around the grounds of Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in Holderness, New Hampshire. That place is where I first experienced the mountains and lake environment, as a toddler, and it is the place to which I return for grounding. As I walked around that week, I watched a group of women taking a crafts workshop. They were joyful. They made little sculptures of rocks and pinecones on paths and left them there. They drew, knitted, painted, and more. 

I thought: I could easily see a group of writers coming alive in this setting. And so I stopped in at the office, and the idea of Writing from Nature was born.

For 2016, we've moved our locale to southwestern New Hampshire, in a comfortable, quiet, rustic cottage on Stone Pond, within sight of Mount Monadnock. 

Join me at my second Writing from Nature. Click on the link, view the schedule and more about my philosophy. Click on the Pay Now link there, or click here to sign up on Paypal. The price for the entire weekend, including workshop, materials, room and board, is $585 if you sign up by April 1. (After April 1, the price is $650, still a great deal.)

Come join me. Learn how to jumpstart the new ideas in your head. We will start by telling stories out loud. We will set out alone and together on trails. I will guide you through new writing after your rambles. We will learn about the struggles of the common loon and the changing weather patterns in New England.  On Saturday afternoon, visiting writer Elizabeth Rush will share her journey of writing from nature and making a profession out of it. We will immerse ourselves in the patterns of the late spring on Stone Pond. We will learn how animals and plants respond to the changing climate. We will briefly get a taste of early twentieth-century life on the grounds of what once was called the Merrywood Estate, with its beautiful old trees, its younger forest growing up beneath them, and its quiet dirt roads. We also will eat very well (we have a chef!) and be relaxed and private, so that we can focus on nature and writing.