This refers to the first course I led at this venue. The content of the ongoing course, Writing the Bright Moment, can be seen here.
In 2015, I'm offering, in addition to the Writing the Bright Moment course at the end of August, a weeklong residential THE WILD WAYS: ecopsychology & the new nature-writing in the same venue (4–11 September). See: http://thewildways.co.uk/news/
One of the things I'm most passionate about, in both my own life and the courses I lead, is exploring what it might mean for us as a species to live in this world as an integral and essential part of the web of life in a less dominant, greedy and separate way than our current model encourages. How can we experience ourselves as 'part of' rather than 'apart'? What would it mean to live within our means, to experience an 'us-ness' rather than a 'me against you, against nature'-ness? How would it be if we stopped seeing the natural world as a resource and playground for our appetites, and instead a whole and interconnected ecosphere in which every single part has a part to play, and counts? How about our experience of ourselves as more than domesticated; experience too of our wilder connected nature?
One of the most poignant phrases I know is a quote from Jungian James Hillman, and I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, probably more than once (and possibly more recently than I care to remember!): 'Because of our neglect, the world is strewn with unrelated objects.'
So one of my informing visions is finding ways to put the fragments back together. To this end, many of my courses and workshops emphasise re-visioning, making conscious, imagining, as well as noticing our relationship with the natural world and the many many 'others' with whom we share this planet.
I like to work outside and to use various means, such as mindfulness and deep immersion in the land and our experience of it, and also story and poetry, even movement and artwork or music, to effect the minute shifts in consciousness that lead to a wholer sense of being all in this together, human, wind, rain, seasons, rock, water, horse, dog, gnat, fern, oak tree, mouse, badger... and so on. We're looking for connections, for associations, for signs of and experiences in relation to interbeing; to wholeness, and finding ways to speak about it.
And, of course, we use writing.
Looking at 'nature writing' from the last 20 or 30 years I notice a subtle change in the way we speak and write of the natural world. This fills me with hope. We are no longer, collectively, writing about 'nature' and 'the land' as something 'out there', separate and distinct, to be written about objectively and even analytically; but increasingly we are writing as if we, other species, and the land itself, to use Henry Beston's word, are 'brethren'. Writers like Gary Snyder, Rick Bass, Terry Tempest Williams, Jay Griffiths, Robert MacFarlane and many others are writing 'from the inside of the web'.
So in the interests of nature writing, in September, I'm thrilled to be going back to the Languedoc, one of the most inspiring areas I know, and in which my timeslip novel Imago is partly set. I shall be leading an eco-writing retreat in late summer sun at the beautiful Gardoussel retreat centre in the Cevennes run by my friend Sharon and her partner Alex. We will be spending much of that time outdoors; experiencing, imagining.
It'll be a small and friendly group, and you're welcome whatever your level of writing experience; come and share your own ideas and passions and writing contributions...
The blurb's in the next post, in case I can tempt you!
You can see more about the venue here.