“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted,
bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”
Dear Woman, Who Writes,
Imagine yourself walking across this bridge with only your senses as a companion. You’re in no hurry. You’ve stowed your cell phone. You are simply you, one with nature. Maybe you’re not one to choose to a forest adventure. You might be like this writer, who prefers to sit by a lake and view the distant hills while watching birds.
How is nature relevant to the writing life?
- Nature is often an essential element for setting in both prose and poetry. Environmental details enable the reader to feel the cool mist and the touch of a breeze, the smell of water or animal scat.
- The natural world inspires us. According to Terry Tempest Williams, nature provides, “. . . stillness that allows us to listen to life on a deeper level and to meet each other in a fully authentic and present way.” You might say a walk in the woods—or a chair by a lake—helps us to meet our authentic selves, as well.
- Nature is abundant with detail and metaphor. It is more than bridges, trees, and babbling brooks. Nature is wind and weather, animal and vegetable, life and death.
- Nature offers real obstacles for the character, the narrator, or the speaker in a poem. Obstacles are essential to good storytelling. Sometimes dramatic; often humorous.
Here are some examples from fiction, poetry, and memoir—
- A leafy environment is a great place to begin a romance, as in this excerpt from Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer—a gorgeous environmental romance set in Appalachia.
- In poetry, the speaker often observes and interacts with nature, which often becomes symbolic of something deeper. Here is Ada Limón’s poem, “Instructions on Not Giving Up,” via Poetry.org.
- For adult narrators writing childhood stories, the outdoors is ripe for memory. Here is a flash essay by Brian Doyle, “Imagining Foxes,” from Brevitymag.com. He captures the magic of a road trip with his father and siblings—an adult memory of a childhood fantasy of lush woods beside a highway outside of New York City.
Want to learn more about women who write about the natural world? The “Women Writing the World,” on the Oak Spring Garden Foundation website, has a top-ten list, and others. Put nature on your reading list!
Image provided by GiveGab.com
The WWW leadership team plans events, workshops, and retreats, and coordinates peer critiques. We provide resources for your reading and writing life. So, we would be encouraged by your donation on September 14 during the Give for Good annual one-day online fundraiser occurring on Thursday, September 14 between midnight and 11:59 PM.
Last year we almost reached our goal ($2,500). This year we plan to reach or exceed that goal. These funds help us to supplement memberships so that we can plan programs that are free or affordable for our members. For example, our guest authors and workshop leaders often receive honoraria. We offer scholarships. We supplement retreat costs. We need our membership fees of $50 per year to keep us in business. Donations help us expand programming.
As part of the fundraiser, there are bonuses for the number of individual donations of $10 or more. Last year, for 30 individual donations, we earned an extra $300.
Here is where you can learn more about our nonprofit and donate all day on Thursday, September 14.
To celebrate our Give for Good fundraiser we’re having a party at Captain’s Quarters in their Stone Room (the 19th Century Harrods Creek Tavern). The event will include an appetizer buffet and a cash bar, which we’ll enjoy as we listen to award-winning Louisville writer, Ellen Birkett Morris. The cost for the event is $24 per member (including gratuity). Members may bring one non-member for $28. The ticket fee pays for room rental and the buffet and soft drinks. There will be a cash bar. No part of the price is a donation.
Members can register here.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR—
Our September monthly meeting is a party on Thursday, September 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Captain’s Quarters on River Road in eastern Louisville—the day of the Give for Good Louisville fundraiser.
On Saturday and/or Sunday, October 14 & 15, we are hosting a writing retreat at the Knob Creek retreat house at the Loretto Motherhouse Farm near Bardstown— from 10 AM on Saturday through 5 PM on Sunday. Day options on Saturday or Sunday are $40 per person per day. Fees for overnight guests are $110 for a single room or $85 for a double room (including the $50 daytime retreat fee). There are walking trails and two lakes, a lovely labyrinth, many places to ponder, and plentiful wildlife (also cows). If you are a bird watcher, bring your binoculars. Learn more and register here.
On Tuesday, November 7 at 6:30 PM, we’ll resume our regular monthly meeting at an LFPL branch to be announced. It’s not too early to think about what you might want to bring for peer critique! By the way, November 7 is Election Day, so make your plans to vote before 6:30.
THE WRITING PROMPT
“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.”
Use nature to develop a character in your story—how she values, interacts with, or fears nature. Put her on a path through the trees or by a lake. Show her moving within the scene you’ve chosen. What does she remember? What does she desire? Add interiority.
Write a story or a poem about a “complicated” experience with nature. Realistic or fantastic. Invented or remembered.
Stand outside alone, observe the world, the trees, the sky. Feel the breeze. Take a deep breath. Without a purpose, describe the scene. What are you surprised to notice? Note the other humans in the setting you choose. Does any of the nature you see become a metaphor?
Recall a childhood experience with trees. Write a tree story! Did you or a character climb, get stuck, fall from one, cut a tree down, or plant one? Has she been back to visit a favorite tree? Did she build a fort out of a fallen tree? — (this prompt is adapted from tree-loving WWW member Bonnie Omer Johnson.)
WE WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR WRITING LIFE!
The Writer’s Block Festival is Saturday, September 30 at Logan Street Market— “25,000 square feet filled with 25+ locally owned and operated food, beverage, provisions, and artisan shops.” The market is located south of Broadway near Paristown. The cost for the day is $25, which includes a keynote address by Emily Bingham, historian, and author of three nonfiction narrative books, most recently, My Old Kentucky Home. There are five workshops on as many topics and an InKY reading. Learn more (and register) here.
Consider adding the LLA Writer’s Block Anthology to your reading list (sold on Amazon and at the Writer’s Block Festival), which includes stories from current members—Holly Hinson and Erin Wedemeyer—as well as a story written by WWW former director, Jessica Hildebrand. Congratulations to these women who might have at times been discouraged. Nevertheless, they persisted!
At Women Who Write, we celebrate both rejections and acceptances for publication, because you can’t have one without the other.
All members are invited to submit to the Women Who Write web blog! We accept personal essays, poetry, fiction, and memoir. No more than 2,000 words, please! Publishing on our blog will expand your writing platform since you can share the blog link on social networks. And you’ll help WWW show off the variety of talents within our writing community! Browse our web blog now! Write to Kim at and tell us about your story, poem, or essay—the one you’ve written or the one you want to write!
Submit a story to Landslide Lit(erary) on Medium.com, a publication edited by two WWW members—Kimberly Crum and Bonnie Omer Johnson. We will provide developmental and editorial suggestions. Here are the submission guidelines.
Bookfox is an ongoing well-regarded list of journals accepting submissions for poetry and prose. This is a great overall resource for writers. Each of the links he lists also lists the cost of submission. Learn more here.
ECOTONE is an award-winning literary magazine “dedicated to reimagining place, “welcoming work from a wide range of voices. Open Submissions
Chestnut Review is reading both poetry and prose submissions between July 1-Sept 30 for the Winter Issue Open Submissions
Rose Metal Press: Open Submissions
Thimble Literary Magazine is primarily a poetry journal, but we happily publish plenty of short prose and art. Next submissions August 1 through September 30. Thimble Literary Magazine: Open Submissions
Folly is an international journal of poetry, prose, and art (published in New Zealand). Submissions are year-round. “We are drawn to dark humour, satirical takes on the social scene, and starkly honest accounts of ordinary life. Diversity is celebrated, adversity is welcomed, and, above all, personal expression is championed. Open Submissions
Green House wants poetry, short stories, creative essays, and flash fiction for bi-monthly digital issues. The website is worth a visit! Clever, unique, and informative!
Green House: Open Submissions
Sad Girls Club: Open Submissions —”We want to see writing that explores what it means to be human. Make us laugh until our stomachs hurt, ugly cry, and everything in between. We accept poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and creative nonfiction.”
HerStry literary essay/memoir blog seeks to empower women through their writing. Submissions for general admissions are ongoing. Submissions for monthly themed issues are by the end of each month. Find out more here! Themes for the remainder of 2023 are Stories that Haunt Us, Thank you, I Guess, and Winter. If you have a work-in-progress that fits one of these themes, or if any of these themes prompt a personal essay, bring it to a WWW peer critique!
Poets and Writers has an extensive list of literary magazines to which you can submit. Learn more here.
N+1 literary journal accepts new fiction, drama, personal essays, criticism, and translation on a rolling basis. Find out more ">here.
Gionsko Literary Journal. Gionsko means, “to perceive, understand, realize, come to know; knowledge that has an inception, a progress, an attainment. The recognition of truth from experience.” Accepting short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, social justice, and literary insights. Learn more here.
Sky Island Journal is an online journal that publishes emerging and established writers. Prefers flash fiction and creative nonfiction (less than 1,000 words) and poetry. Rolling submissions. Inquire here.
Halfway Down the Stairs publishes quarterly themed issues of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews. Learn more here
Consider writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Some upcoming themes— The Power of Positive Thinking, Angels, Dogs, Cats, and Make Me Laugh! Learn more here
Consider submitting to this online magazine of personal essays—Dorothy Parker’s Ashes has as its tagline, “Brazen words by witty dames. Everything true. More or less.” https://www.dorothyparkersashes.com/the-writing-life
Thimble Literary is “based on the belief that poetry is like armor. Like a thimble, it may be small and seemingly insignificant, but it will protect us when we are most vulnerable.” The online journal publishes quarterly. Find out more here!
The Fictional Café is a unique literary venue inviting fiction and poetry. This international platform does require membership (looks like it’s free) to submit. They describe themselves as a Coffee Club, and their editors and staff as baristas. Here is their invitation— “Want to submit a short story or poetry? A chapter from a novel-in-progress?”
The Blue Mountain Review publishes poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, on a rolling basis, for publication in this quarterly print journal. “Blue Mountain Review is a Southern publication, but it draws no boundaries or borders on that interpretation. It seeks pieces that boldly create something new.”
The Keeping Room is an online magazine for women writers, poets, and artists, interested in “Women’s Wisdom, Lessons Learned, Self-care, Bodies, Relationships, and Community.” Find out how to submit here.
SUPPORT OUR WRITING COMMUNITY!
Become a member (or re-member)—As a community, WWW strives to nurture your writing life. We hope you choose to join or renew as a member and participate in our monthly meetings, author talks, retreats, and workshops. Our membership chair will notify persons when they are due to renew. Regular annual membership is $50. Student annual membership is $25. Membership entitles you to discounts on workshops and retreats.
Plan to donate to our Give for Good online fundraiser campaign on September 14. Of course, we accept donations on our website all year long.
Attend our monthly member meetings on the second Tuesday of each month for a brief program, peer critiques, and conversations about the writing life. Not currently a member? You can attend two meetings before deciding to join.
Visit our web page WomenWhoWrite.com. Also, visit our Facebook Page and stay awhile—@womenwhowriteky. Don’t forget to like us and follow us. Answer polls. See video interviews of WWW meetings with visiting writers.
Participate! Members, please send us links to your published writing. We will include these links on our Facebook page!
Love your writing life!
The Leadership Team
Kim, Alisa, Megan, Janet, Irene, Ashley, and Katie