This post should inspire you to think creatively in relation to the following prompt and is especially targeted at short story and flash fiction writers.
Write or draw something about a winter walk. I’m not talking about an ordinary walk, but one where something absurd happens and your protagonist has to step up and make important decisions. Is the whole village wiped out by a virus? Or maybe there’s a puddle which is really a portal to another universe? Let your imagination wander.
Suggestions for Fiction Writers
Daily walks have become more popular as a result of the pandemic and many people have discovered the potential to reconnect with nature as a result of lockdown. Have you been on more walks since Covid-19? How has spending time outside made you feel? What have you seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched outdoors? After you have had a think about these realistic aspects, consider if you can add a touch of magical realism to your work. We are a magazine with a particular interest in the folksy or otherworldly, and so we would especially welcome any submissions of this nature.
Potential opening lines could include:
The gravel gave way beneath my feet to the most spectacular…
Time evanesced as I watched the leaves curl up, dead on the forest floor…
I could see her hanging upside down from the thick, gnarled branch of the Banyan tree, a child once more…
He walked beside me, briskly, tight-lipped, arms swiping the air like blades, asynchronous to nature…
For inspiration, look to D.H. Lawrence who was a master of writing about nature and exploring it in a philosophical way. He was particularly interested in human sensuality and its relationship to the earth and to primal being. Consider these incredible lines from Lady Chatterley’s Lover below:
“Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.”
“The wood was silent, still and secret in the evening drizzle of rain, full of the mystery of eggs and half-open buds, half unsheathed flowers. In the dimness of it all trees glistened naked and dark as if they had unclothed themselves, and the green things on earth seemed to hum with greenness.”
Thomas Hardy is another writer who experiments with nature description. Often in Hardy’s work we get a sense of a natural landscape that is unsympathetic to human will. You can see this clearly in the passage from Tess of the D’Urbervilles below:
“Meanwhile, the trees were just as green as before; the birds sang and the sun shone as clearly now as ever. The familiar surroundings had not darkened because of her grief, nor sickened because of her pain.”
Hardy also thinks a lot about how humans attempt to project their own lives onto their natural surroundings, and how nature can be considered as a kind of deity, in a more pagan fashion. The landscape seems to hold some clues to existence as if it were in fact an omniscient being. See the following quotation, also from Tess:
“At times her whimsical fancy would intensify natural processes around her till they seemed a part of her own story. Rather they became a part of it; for the world is only a psychological phenomenon, and what they seemed, they were. The midnight airs and gusts, moaning amongst the tightly wrapped buds and bark of the winter twigs, were formulae of bitter reproach. A wet day was the expression of irremediable grief at her weakness in the mind of some vague ethical being whom she could not class definitely as the God of her childhood, and could not comprehend as any other.”
Let us know your own favourite nature writers in the comments below.
Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-chief