Week 10: Words from the Wild


Thinking about the experience of silence in nature.

Hi everyone,

I hope that everyone is staying cosy to read the blog and complete the writing tasks. This week we are welcoming back some writers onto St Nicks reserve and look forward to a time when our classes can fully return to include more people in the future.

This week William and I read pages 188 -194 of The Stubborn Light of Things by Melissa Harrison. During this week’s extract Melissa describes a move to a new home in the country side. She is struck by the silence that falls in the evenings without the hum of traffic or people near by. At first the silence is quite eery until she settles into her new home.

Melissa chose a home specifically with tracks around it so that she had quick and easy access to lots of dog walking opportunities. Melissa notes the sound of her dog scampering and the sudden stillness when Scout becomes alert to a noise.

This week’s creative writing tasks will start with stillness and build up a sound scape of noise in the natural world. I hope that you enjoy!

Task 1: (5 mins) Stillness. Imagine a place in the natural world where everything is quiet and still. It might be a very calm lake early in the morning. Or a garden as night settles and the birds settle down. Try to think of somewhere tranquil that you have visited. Write for 5 minutes describing the feeling of experiencing a quiet landscape.

Task 2: (5 mins)Footsteps. Now that we have imagined a quiet place let’s build some noise. Imagine walking on and through something textured in the natural world. Here are some ideas: snow, mud, dry leaves, long grass, shingle on a beach.

Try to find words to describe the noise that your foot steps make. Write ten lines each with a description of your feet walking through nature.

Task 3: (10 mins) Sudden noises in nature. Have you ever been startled by a flock of birds lifting from a path, or a large wave crashing on to a shore? Write about an experience when you have been startled in the natural world. Using the juxtaposition of a quiet landscape in contrast to a loud interaction with nature is a nice starting point to this task.

Task 4: (5 mins) I couldn’t resist adding in a fourth task today with winter approaching (both in the chapters we have been reading and in reality!). The fourth task is about snow. Free write for five minutes about the world being hushed by a white blanket of snow, if you like have fun linking today’s themes and writing about making tracks in the snow.

I hope you had fun with these tasks!
See you next week for our last session before Christmas.

Best wishes,

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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