Nature Journaling

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Ever wanted to try nature journaling? Not sure what it is? Nature journaling is the act of keeping a journal that is specifically devoted to recording observations in nature.  I’m currently earning an MA in Biology and for one of my projects this semester, I’m looking to start a nature journaling group! However, there are many different techniques to nature journaling, so I’m looking to find out which techniques participants prefer the most and why. For this project, I have decided to focus on two of the most common nature journaling techniques – field journaling and memory journaling. Field journaling is actively writing and drawing experiences/encounters with nature while in the field. Memory journaling, on the other hand, is focused on experiencing nature first, then writing about the experience later.

If you would like to give each of these journaling techniques a try and provide some feedback  about the proposed exercises, please follow the instructions listed below and take the short survey found at the bottom of the page.

Consent: Please note that participation in this study is voluntary, participants will remain anonymous, and the results of the study and subsequent survey will only be shared with my class. You must be 18 years or older to complete this study.

Tools needed: Paper/notebook, item to write/draw with (pen, pencils, etc.).

Field Journaling Instructions: Choose a space outdoors where you can quietly observe a plant of your choosing for 30 minutes. Using a piece of paper or a notebook, record observations of your chosen plant. These can be in the form of a combination of drawings, sketches, or short, written observations. To help get you thinking of what to record, consider the color of the plant, or its shape. Is it dormant, or in bloom? Does it have a smell? What’s around the plant? These are suggestions, but the goal is to focus on observing and recording your chosen plant.

Memory Journaling: For this exercise, choose a different area of your chosen space and a different plant to focus on for 30 minutes. Without recording any observations, focus solely on being present with your chosen plant and the surrounding space. Inwardly take note of the sights, sounds, and smells, observing and experiencing without interruption. After the 30 minute exercise has been completed, record your observations and experiences in your notebook or on a piece of paper from memory. 

Once your have completed the field and memory journaling exercises, please record your feedback through this survey 

Thank you for participating!

 

Developing Your Voice

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Writing with your own voice is not as easy as speaking. Developing your own writing voice is essential to forging your own path as a writer. Your voice is you – and it is who you are when you write.

A number of new writers that I meet are so often searching to emulate the voice of their favorite author – which has its merits, but it can also be limiting. Too often I find that though these new writers get inspired by their favorite author’s voices, they try too hard to emulate their favorite authors and often get frustrated and stuck when their own voice doesn’t sound like the individual they were hoping to sound like.

The trick is to leave it at inspiration. Be inspired by the voice, of the way the author strings together their words and develops their stories, but speak for yourself. I find the best way to go about doing this is to free write. Write your ideas as they come to you, with no thought to punctuation or grammar while you’re free writing. Also, seek out topics that excite you! Nothing is worse than writing about a topics that puts you to sleep. Additionally (and this might be one of the most important points to remember when developing your own writer’s voice), write what you know. Write of your experiences and your knowledge of subjects and topics. Your voice will certainly shine through.

An Outlander’s Kitchen

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted in here – but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten scribbling, or on this occasion, baking! A number of you have probably heard of the Outlander book series written by Diana Gabaldon (I discovered them several years ago and have been a fan ever since) and of the Starz television series that they’ve become. However, have any of you heard of the Outlander Cookbook?

Being such a fan, I was elated to discover this book in my library – it was like walking straight into Jamie Fraser himself (ok, well not that good, but you get the idea). Anyway, to celebrate the start of Season 3 of Outlander, I started the party by baking – wait for it – bread.

But not just any bread – Honey Buttermilk Oatbread featured in Chapter 25 of Gabaldon’s Voyager:

It was a small serving maid, with a tray of supper.  She bobbed shyly to me, smiled at Jamie, and laid both supper — cold meat, hot broth and warm oatbread with butter — and the fire with a quick and practiced hand, then left us with a murmured “Good e’en to ye.”

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You see, all of the recipes listed in Theresa Carle-Sander’s cookbook have been mentioned within the books themselves (or sometimes the television series). Being a fan of both the books and of cooking, it’s been hard trying to decide what recipe to make next! However, I do have my eye on that recipe for cherry bounce gelato…

If you’re interested in the book, check your local library for a copy; many retailers and booksellers also sell it. The author also has a site that you can check out: http://outlanderkitchen.com/

If you’ve made one of these recipes or have been inspired to after reading this post, leave a comment below!

The Blind Men and the Elephant

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Today, I came across a folktale from India, called The Blind Man and the Elephant. It’s a story about six blind men, each with an idea of what an elephant looks like or what an elephant actually is. To make this discovery for themselves, the men decide to set out to finally discover what truly is an elephant. They end up finding an elephant, and since they are blind, the old men reach out to touch portions of the elephant, such as the ears or the trunk. They get into a fight as they try to determine which of them is actually correct in stating what an elephant is, based on the portion of the elephant their hand has touched. Only until the Rajah informs them that they have each touched a different part of the elephant and if they had only put the parts together, they would have seen the truth, do the men stop fighting and decide to trust and coexist with each other, despite differing viewpoints.

I share this story because today is World Elephant Day, a day to reflect and think about these animals that are rapidly disappearing from this earth. I also share this story as a lesson. With the occurrences of injustice and prejudice happening everyday in this world, it’s important to learn that such practices need to be quashed and that coexistence, respect, and trust, is the way that we should live our lives.

 

 

 

5 Tips to Building a Fantasy World

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I had the pleasure of meeting author Terry Ervin, a fantasy and science fiction author (check out his works here: http://www.ervin-author.com) who is an expert on creating and building fantasy worlds. I was so inspired and in awe of the presentation that he gave on how to build fantasy worlds that I started to delve into the art of creating believable, make-believe places. If you are looking to get into fantasy writing, but are not sure on how to get started or how to move forward with your project, check out the following 5 tips:

  1. Decide the time period. Will it be in the past? The future? Perhaps in an alternate reality? Setting of time and place is key to getting started in building your world.
  2. Who is your protagonist and in what viewpoint will the story be told? Deciding whether or not to tell the story in first or third person can have a big impact in how your story plays out. Think about your story and its plot points to help make a decision on the best viewpoint. Also consider writing a couple of pages of your story in different viewpoints (I find this helps me discover the story’s true voice).
  3. Make the unbelievable have a convincing explanation. Consistency and convincing details are key with magical objects, occurrences, and places. Think about the Harry Potter series – every fantastic thing in the wizarding world has an explanation that is believable to the context of the story and therefore, the reader.
  4. Please give your world rules. Everything, even magic, must abide by some law or limit.
  5. Think about your characters – the way they look, how they speak, their desires, and their fears. Fleshing out your characters is necessary for any writing genre and should not be forgotten when in the process of building a fantasy world.

 

Now get writing – magic doesn’t create itself!