Friday, January 18, 2013

Why I Go to the Woods

Whenever I start to feel that living in rural Nova Scotia is hurting my writing career because I simply don't get to meet people who can help me, I remember that writing is more important to me than networking and that this is the best place in the world for me to write. If I write well, I will find the people I need.
This belief, however naive it seems particularly stated so baldly as that, is underscored every time I go for a walk in our woods. We'd had enough of a melt then freeze the other day that I was able to walk across the snow without sinking down to my knees (I do use snowshoes but the dogs struggle in the deep snow and in following my footsteps, keep walking on the back of the shoes). We trotted up the land then across the field to the edge of the woods where there was more grass than snow. The wind rustled the needles of the pine trees and I could hear the wings of the crows overhead as they beat through the cold air. By the time we returned home, I had my entire next Field Notes column swirling around in my head.
I love that! Walking is the antidote to everything but I find it most effective for creating the opportunity for the ideas I know are inside me to pop into my head. So many essays are formulated while walking the woods and now that I've decided to write a novel (you're reading it here first!), the characters are chattering away in my head like blue jays above an empty feeder.
But that's not all. I needed inspiration for an essay that needs to be written; there are so few commercial markets for essay writers like me that I can't bring myself to not submit to certain competitions even though my writing isn't "literary" enough. Checking out an artist friend's blog, I discovered a poem she had posted. Now...I had been thinking about a certain essay already written because I had a magazine I wanted to send it to so when I saw this poem, I knew this was the inspiration I needed to expand that essay for that competition.
I love what that happens. Serendipity are what keep writers going. Plus beautiful writing like this:

How I Go to the Woods
by Mary Oliver

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend, for they are all
smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to
the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise
of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unbearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much.

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