Daily Archives: October 22, 2016

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Roy McFarlane Workshop ‘Letters, Phone calls and Texting’

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Following on from the earlier workshop ‘Objects to hang our words on’, Roy takes us deeper into exercises and writing in the next session ‘Letters, Phone Calls and Texting’.

This workshop focuses on poetry from Pascale Petit and Roy McFarlane. You are invited to extend on your earlier writing. So take a deep breath and dive in.


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Letters, phone calls and texting

Arrival of the Electric Eel from Fauverie by Pascale Petit

Each time I open it I feel like a Matses girl

handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,

my face pierced by jaguar whiskers

to make me brave.

I know what’s inside – that I must

unwrap the envelope of leaves

until all that’s left

squirming in my hands

is an electric eel.

The positive head, the negative tail,

the rows of batteries under the skin,

the smell, almost blind eyes,

The day turns murky again,

I’m wading through the bottom of my life

when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.

The charged fibres of paper

against my shaking fingers,

the thin electroplates of ink.

The messenger drags me up to the surface

to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.

Never before has a letter been so heavy,

growing to two metres in my room,

the address, the phone number, then the numbness

I know you must be surprised, it says,

but I will die soon and want to make contact.

Pascale captures the dread of opening a correspondence, there’s that association with an indigenous girl from the Amazon, a brave Matses girl, the knowledge of knowing and then we have the electric eel. The letter is alive; charged fibres of paper, thin electroplates of ink. Now feel the weight of the letter watch it grow two metres and then the last two lines leave us in turmoil.

The next one is Leaves are falling from my collection Beginning with your last breath. Autumn plays a big part here, the way I guess things slow down when you hear bad news, like leaves falling but for me a storm is coming and you pray that the weather forecasters have got it wrong.

I didn’t notice the leaves falling

the day they told me it would be

weeks more than months.

The rest of their words

fell softly on deaf ground.

I remembered in the morning

they had forecast an oncoming storm,

the tail end of a hurricane

from the Caribbean seas.

What do they know?

They never get things right,

it will never ever reach here.


writing

Exercise

Take yourself back to the moment you received news about a terminal illness, the passing away of a loved one, somebody moving on or a message via letter, email, friends, or searching through your beloved belongings and you find a message addressed to you. Hold that moment, imagine the feeling, numb, shock, surprised, scared, angry, start writing those feelings, just the feelings, get a thesaurus and explore the feelings, look at its root meaning, the etymology of the word you’re playing with. (15 mins writing) Now think of an animal, weather, or nature inhabit their essence, their very being, imagine every nuance you can think of, don’t link the two together yet, just keep writing (15 mins) Now you should have two A4 writing of notes, (I’m joking, a few lines are just as good). Now put the two together, hopefully you’ve been bursting to correlate the two things to make your poem.

 

 

RELATED LINKS:

Beginning with your last Breath by Roy McFarlane – buy a copy here

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html

Fauverie by Pascale Petit – buy a copy here

https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/fauverie

http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk/

INKSPILL: Workshop with Roy McFarlane ‘Objects to hang our words on’

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Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – beinroy-3g true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

… be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

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In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of;

Gregory Leadbetter

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© 2016 Nine Arches

Hannah Lowe

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© Bloodaxe

Ruby Robinson

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© Poetry Out Loud

 

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© 2016

Carol Ann Duffy.

Details on buying copies of the cited publications can be found in RELATED LINKS at the end of the workshop post.

ENJOY!


Objects to hang our words on – Roy McFarlane Workshop

 

 

My Father’s Orrery from The Fetch by Gregory Leadbetter touches on an object that ties father and son together;

My Father’s Orrery

Is without end.

What a beautiful beginning, the title and straight into the poem is without end, the memories of our loved ones, their name goes on; but there’s a warning

The solar system on the fireplace

spins only one planet around it’s sun –

Mercury, as if now the limit

of what we know, hints at the missing

planets to come: the ache in the equation

their absence makes,

Something’s not right, an incompleteness, and the line the ache in the equation their absence makes. No mention of death but we’re feeling the oncoming pain. A poem about an unfinished orrery draws a picture of the man, the relationship between the father and the poet.

And what an ending about this mathematician, astrologist who has probably taught his son about the universe;

With the planet in his hands, he felt

the weight of his loss, knew he had forgotten

how to put the universe together.

Not only a reference to his father’s dementia but an echo of the weight of loss and the falling apart of the universe when we lose our loved ones. Read the whole of My Father’s Orrey and the book.

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© 2016 Nine Arches Press

 

Hook your poems around the idea of an action, cooking, fishing, knitting, game of chess, let’s have a look at A Man Can Cook from Chick by Hannah Lowe.

You at the stove, the air spiced up with ginger,

nutmeg, clove. I know you won’t turn round

but I can stand here can’t I watch the fire

flaring blue below your pans, your hands

cajoling dumpling, knifing up red snapper,

crushing star anise? You can’t turn around,

too busy with your strange colonial mixtures,

mango roly poly, cocoa bread.

My aunty said ‘Now there’s a man can cook!

I should have let you teach me, long before

you couldn’t eat, before they sliced a moon

of flesh away from you. Now you’re blurred

by steam. These smells will linger in my hair.

I leave you here then, humming as you stir.

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© 2013 Bloodaxe

 

Or maybe a memorable day throwing Frisbees, a ride at an amusement park, or cornflake cake, as you’ll see in My Mother from Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson

She said the cornflake cake made her day,

she said a man cannot be blamed for being

unfaithful: his heart is not in tune with his

extremities and it’s just the way his body

chemistry is. She said all sorts of things.

And here begins a conversation starting with a cornflake cake as an item that means so much for this memorable day. Loss can be so many things; in this poem similar to other poems within this collection, the poet is looking at the loss of her mother to mental health or the wider implication of being caught up in the system.

In the park, stopped for a cup of tea in a café

where we had the cornflake cake cut into halves

with the handle of a plastic fork. We saw yellow

crocuses growing a ring around a naked tree

These are the memories, the conversation that are universal as well as being personal, giving us minute details, speaking so many things between the line, memorable unforgettable, poems need to be unforgettable to the poet as well as the reader. She tells us more about their day and ends.

She said she’d been talking to Jesus and God

because she didn’t want to go to hell, although,

she said, correctly, we’ve been through hell

already, haven’t we. She said a woman should

know her place, should wait. She lit a cigarette.

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© 2016 Liverpool University Press

 

And finally Cold from The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

It felt so cold, the snowball which wept in my hands,

and when I rolled it along in the snow, it grew

till I could sit on it, looking back at home

Snowball weeping in my hands sets us up for what is to come, the cold and snow becomes the vehicle to transport us from good times to bad times, so we’re back at home. Windows blind with ice, breath undressing itself on the air, Carol’s having fun with beautiful descriptions. Have fun with, don’t settle for the old clichés, sit for a while and find something fresh and different. Carol’s feeling cold my toes, burning, cold in my winter boots and she switches to her mother, her hands were cold from peeling and finishing with such beauty.

her daughter’s face, a kiss for both cold cheeks, my cold nose.

But nothing so cold as the February night I opened the door

in the Chapel of Rest where my mother lay, neither young, nor old,

where my lips, returning her kiss to her brow, knew the meaning of cold.

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© 2011 Gutter Magazine


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Exercise

 

Like a snowball weeping, a cup holding grief, a bible with gold-edged leaves whispering, and I know you’re already thinking of an object that means so much to you and your loved one, but let’s just begin with stretching this object, imbuing it with life, let this object be the vehicle that draws us into your narrative, and then run with it.

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RELATED LINKS

The Fetch – Gregory Leadbetter (which was launched at Waterstones last week as part of Birmingham Literature Festival) is available here http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20fetch.html

http://gregoryleadbetter.blogspot.co.uk/

Chick Hannah Lowe available here http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/chick-1055

https://hannahlowe.org/

Every Little Sound Ruby Robinson available here http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/73653

The Bees Carol Ann Duffy available here https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/carol-ann-duffy/the-bees

 

INKSPILL – Introducing ‘Writing Loss’

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We met with Roy McFarlane over the summer (whilst he was Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace). In discussing the theme for our writing workshops we chose loss. Loss plays a part in his debut collection ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’. If you know the story behind the book, the motivation for his work, it started with loss.

Handing over to Roy…

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© 2011 Smokestack Books


Inkspill Online Writing Retreat

Writing Loss

We’ll be exploring the theme of loss in myriad ways. When writing love, love seems to pour from the heart on to the paper, spilling over the pages on to notepads, back of envelopes and any available space that you can find but in that moment of loss, or that long road to the inevitability of loss, we often struggle, we often refuse to write.

Mona Arshi said in an interview with the Forward Arts Foundation, ‘writing the poems around death of my brother, observing the anguish of a family trying to come to terms and survive was a difficult task, but one I felt I had to negotiate especially if you believe that one of the functions of poetry is to make the unbearable, bearable.’

So for this weekend, we are simply going to write with an abundance, write without the need to worry too much about form but I do want you to be inspired by the prompts and exercises I’m going to share with you, some of which have been the spark behind my writing but more profoundly, just the joy of reading from a cannon of wonderful writers.

There are no fast rules, the only rule is to write, write it your way the best way that you can. I only ask that you write the truth, bare as much of you as you can on the page – being true to yourself. There’s going to be tears, but I hope and pray that there’ll be smiles and laughter.

I’m interested in how far you can spread your net of writing, I’m naturally thinking of our loved ones; our parents, lovers, siblings, children, pets but how far can we go with this, a work colleague, the boss, coach, a teammate, the team, someone moving away that you’ll never see again, so be imaginative and throw the net out and let’s see what we catch.

INKSPILL Writing Activity #2 Found Poetry

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Found poetry is the literary equivalent of collage and although not favoured by all, can produce interesting results that often spark splinter ideas off in your mind. So be sure to have a notebook handy to scribble down all the additional ideas that spring into your head whilst you’re busy finding.

 

FOUND POETRY

It is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. © 2016 Wikipedia

You will need a notebook, pen, newspaper or magazine. You can also follow this link for more adverts http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk

or choose from our selection below.

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WRITING ACTIVITY #2 Found Poetry

Find two adverts in the newspaper. Create a poem only using words from the two adverts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© 2016 123printers

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© 2016 123printers

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We would love it if you felt brave enough to share the results with us here.

INKSPILL Successful Writing Habits

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Welcome back. To kick start this afternoon take a few minutes to watch this video.

 

 

  1. Write everyday
  2. Write first thing in the morning
  3. Turn off your inner critic
  4. Let other people read your work
  5. Rituals

 


We are certain many of you can tick off this simple checklist. We would love to hear about No.5 # so tell us about your own rituals.

 

INKSPILL – Introducing Roy McFarlane

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Photograph: Roy’s Book Launch – Beginning with your last breath Published by Nine Arches Press 2016

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Roy McFarlane is one of our three Guest Writers. He has worked really hard on producing a workshop programme for INKSPILL 2016, we are grateful for all his time and effort. We are also happy that through the process of writing for us, we have inspired Roy to create his own series of writing posts which he will be releasing at the end of 2016/2017. We will keep our followers posted on those, so if you haven’t already, please follow the blog. One click, done – easy!


Roy McFarlane can be found online here http://roymcfarlane.com/

Roy was born in Birmingham and now living in the Black Country. He has held the role of Birmingham Poet Laureate and Starbuck Poet in Residence.
His writing has appeared in magazines, Under the Radar, The Reader, The Cannon’s Mouth and The Undertow Review. His poems have been included in anthologies, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe 2012) and he’s the co-editor and writer for Celebrate Wha? (Smokestack 2011).

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He’s presently performer in residence for Warwickshire Poetry Voices and his debut collection Beginning with your last breath is published by Nine Arches Press.

About

Roy has several years’ experience within the world of poetry; crossing over and collaborating with the world of theatre, working along with musicians and dancers, running workshops, projects and training in many different settings, giving young people and adults the knowledge and skills to be the poets and performers of today and tomorrow.

Roy has developed Mentoring/ Arts scheme helping young people to be inspired, to promote confidence and give opportunities for qualifications and future employment. Roy has also developed numerous arts and education packages and tailored workshops to be used in schools, communities and events.

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Writing

I remember being introduced to Langston Hughes The Negro Speaks of Rivers which blew my mind, inspired me to write words that spoke of my world, my journey, my being but more importantly the profound possibilities of sculpturing or painting with words.

I’m constantly in conversation with any format of art, past and present. Art which proposes a truth through what is seen and what is lived; often leading to truths that reflect on the micro and macro aspects of the world around us.
I write for the joy and love of it, the spark that troubles you in the midnight hour, the thought that follows you in a dream, the ache that wakes you up, the inspiration that makes you write on the margins of a newspaper; it’s all part of the reason for writing poetry.

© 2016 roymcfarlane.com


RELATED LINKS:

2009 – Roy McFarlane BBC Interview

Roy McFarlane talks performance poetry Arts & Culture Performance Poetry

http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/beginning%20with%20your%20last%20breath.html

INKSPILL Advice: Time Management

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TIME MANAGEMENT

We dream of a writing career, we might not realise how much work is involved beyond the writing & editing. You can easily use your entire writing time on admin tasks. Sometimes this is a way we avoid writing if we are not feeling it, but sometimes the tasks need to be sifted so we have time to write.

There are many methods of time management. Here is just one for you to try, a proven one found in Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Here I focus on the first 2 Quadrants.

THE METHOD

QUADRANT TASKS 

In Quadrant 1 – tasks are those that are urgent and important. These are the ones with deadlines.

Don’t be too busy with these.

 

Quadrant 2- tasks are those that are important but are not urgent. These are the long-term development tasks.

If you are a writer, some Quadrant 2 goals might be to experiment with different genres, to learn how to market yourself for publishing, and to improve daily writing routines.

The secret? Swap Quadrant 2 and prioritise over Quadrant 1 tasks.

 

^ Re-read that sentence because at first it makes little sense, right?

This doesn’t mean let all your deadlines pass. It means think about skills that will help you as a writer. What will help/advance your career. What would it be? Learn that skill. Or work your way up to learning that skill.

Focus on your development and you will become a better writer.

 

time_management© 2016 qualitylivingmadesimple

Start adding Quadrant 2 to your daily to-do lists. Find a way to focus on your capacity for writing and improving your abilities at least some of the time. Fifty two weeks of consistent development will make you a much stronger writer than one who finishes standstill tasks every day for 52 weeks.

 

Quadrant 3 – tasks that are urgent and not important.

Time pressured distractions, which are not really important.

 

Quadrant 4 – tasks that are not urgent and not important.

Low value activities, things we do when we take a break.

Do the important things first.

 

TIPS:

Take time to relax, stay positive. When it gets overwhelming consider all your productivity and accomplishments so far. Stay healthy and focused. Remember as your workload grows, (it is what you wished for), your productivity planning will need to evolve.

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Stay positive, healthy and focused. Be the water that wears away the stone of your to-do list. Eventually, you’ll win and you’ll be free to move onto the next stone. Be the water. 

 


RELATED LINKS:

https://www.stephencovey.com/

Time Management Grid This PDF has a final page you can print out and fill in using the quadrant system for your own work tasks/schedule.

Featuring Neil Gaiman: Interview

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Take a break from writing for a while and have a read instead.

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BIOGRAPHY

Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described “feral child who was raised in libraries,” Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: “I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans.”

Neil Gaiman’s work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards. Full list here.

 

WRITING FOR ADULTS

Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere (1995), Stardust (1999), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American Gods (2001), Anansi Boys (2005), and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett, 1990), as well as the short story collections Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).

His first collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, was nominated for the UK’s MacMillan Silver Pen Awards as the best short story collection of the year. Most recently, Gaiman was both a contributor to and co-editor with Al Sarrantonio of Stories (2010), and his own story in the volume, The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains, has been nominated for a number of awards.

 

Information is this feature is taken from neilgaiman.com


 

INTERVIEW

This interview is from 2009. PEN World Voices Festival with Caro Llewellyn.

In which Neil talks about his love for his brick (award), books, how it feels to be an award winning writer, on children reading, his own childhood & being ‘Booky’.

Internationally celebrated author Neil Gaiman has written across a variety of literary fields, including short stories, novels, graphic novels, comics, and films. He is the creator of the enormously popular Sandman series of graphic novels, and Coraline, which was recently adapted to the big screen. Join Gaiman for a discussion of imagination, inspiration, and creativity across a dizzying range of genres with World Voices Festival Director Caro Llewellyn.

 

8x9x8 Exercise

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The 8x9x8 Exercise

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For this exercise you will need a bookshelf of books, notebook & pen.

 

  • Find the 8th book on your bookshelf.

 

  • Open it to the 9th page.

 

  • Look at the 8th sentence on that page.

 

  • Use this as the beginning line of a poem or Nano-Fiction piece. No longer than 8 lines.

 

  • Alternatively you can limit yourself to 576 words.


We would love to see some of your results. Share them with us in the boxes below.

Writing Activity #1 Nature

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Welcome to the first writing activity. You will need a notebook, pen and some highlighters or coloured pens. The process of writing out by hand is an important one.

Once you have completed the activity feel free to share extracts of your work in the comment boxes below. Alternatively you can post a link if you have posted your writing elsewhere. You are under no obligation to share at all, but promise me you will not throw this writing away.

Ready?


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The idea behind this initial activity is to get your mind set to ‘retreat’. Our lives are busy and we rarely have time to stop or connect with the world around us. By the end of the activity you may have some writing you can use elsewhere or ideas that wouldn’t have otherwise surfaced. So be open to it and try not to ask ‘why?’ and ‘so what?’ For pleasure, freedom and morning heads.

 

 

In order for this activity to be delivered correctly I have left intentional gaps for you to scroll after you have completed each stage of the writing.

  1. Choose one of the following images (repeat the exercise 3x if you can’t decide).

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2. Spend some time staring at your chosen image. Allow thoughts to gather in your mind. Write down a list of words or phrases that come into your head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Go back through the list, use highlighters if you have some – find where the senses are; What have you written that you can see, hear, taste, smell, touch?

Spend a few minutes adding to your list words and phrases that cover every sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Now put yourself there. Freewrite * for 5 minutes.

*Freewrite: keep your pen moving, even if your thoughts run dry write something ‘my thoughts are running dry’ or repeat a phrase from your original notes ‘the sky is yellow’… until your brain kicks in with new writing again. Time it. Set a timer. 5 minutes.

 

You are there, in the scene.

Use this link for an online timer time-430625_1280

DO NOT re-read this writing when the timer sounds. Just scroll down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here comes the real writing…

 

5. Use what you have written to create an extended narrative or poem (the genre is up to you), at this point you may want to freewrite again. I suggest about 10 -15 mins. for this writing. You can use the timer if you wish.

This new writing can be based on a recalled experience or you can use the images from the exercise to create your world. Go wild, try going outside to complete this activity. Be one with nature.

Describe the most intimate experience you’ve ever had with nature. Try to remember a time in which you were truly affected by the natural world and it became a major part of who you are.

 

 


Feel free to post comments, questions and extracts from this writing activity in the box below.