There are both joys and pitfalls to writing about a beloved place. (Or an unbeloved place.) Perhaps you’re developing an essay about traveling through ancient desert landscapes or a memoir centered on your childhood roaming a swamp catching snakes. Are you working on a historical mystery set in the Canadian tundra or a novel about the terraforming of Pluto? Is your literary novel set in an urban landscape? Even there parts of the natural world survive and can add to the power of your writing. That power is just one of the joys of including the natural world in your writing. A pitfall is the tendency of description to dominate plot and characters.
Bring your works in progress—essays, stories, novel or memoir excerpts (up to 5,000 words)— and over the first three weeks we’ll revise and revise. We’ll use a variety of techniques and readings that will help us write descriptions of the natural world that develop our characters and plot rather than obscure them. The fourth week will be reserved for individual Skype or phone conferences between each participant and the instructor.
Sandra Gail Lambert writes fiction and memoir that is often about the body and its relationship to the natural world. She is a 2018 NEA Creative Writing Fellow. Her memoir, A Certain Loneliness, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her writing has been widely anthologized and both her personal essays and short stories can be found in journals such as The Southern Review, New Letters, Brevity, the North American Review, and Breath and Shadow: A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature. She is also the co-editor (along with Sarah Einstein) of Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival. The River’s Memory is her debut novel. Learn more at: www.sandragaillambert.com