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Walking & Writing

We have been using the technique of the "meditative walk" throughout our creative writing sessions on Balgay hill. Walk silently for a time, observe what is going on around you and inside you, then stop and write in the moment. This week's perambulations took us through wooded slopes up to the Mills Observatory, the first purpose-built public astronomical observatory in the UK, built in 1936.

Kaylia Dunstan contibutes some thoughts following the session.

The unblocking in the wilds

The process of writing is so often a challenge. The experience more often than not is one of writing into unknown space, uncharted territory - it involves a constriction before whatever exists in the mind that is both known and unknown flows or drips out.

There’s an untangling of this when writing in nature as the body finds an easier rhythm amongst the trees, the birds, the insects.

Nature provides a stimulation that’s unforced. We are immersed in it, this complex and simple wonderful thing, so why not write about it.

I came to the Balgay Park writing group with a great deal of writer’s block. I’ve been paid as a writer for over twenty years but my creative writing, the most joyous part of the trade slowly got blocked up. Part of this is writing into space and then space saying the writing is not quite what it's looking for and part of it is the toil of it all with almost wins and many losses.

Nature doesn’t care about all of that. It just asks that one breathes and listens, observes. It doesn’t care about wins or losses. On Thursday during the Balgay writer’s group that is really starting to trust itself we allowed ourselves to flow between each other with words that formed poems - that had points of salience.

What a remarkable thing, we said to each other. That idea, that mismatch and then match of words that meant something bigger. We reflected on a poem about a man who disregarded women for the sake of his own pleasure. We could all react to that, surrounded by the trees with our feet on dirt and grass. All women have known this kind of man. Why not write about him and see what comes up. Some of us brought in the outside of the park into what we wrote and others created songs and stories full of surprise.

In the safety of the woods and of each other we could all unblock. We could all allow the flow of creativity that so often feels like flying.

And then we said goodbye and I packed my book away filled with ideas. Things that I could reflect upon with no expectation that they would be anything else. No wins and no losses. Just words that grow when the sun hits them and the rain washes them and the small things rest upon them and beat their merry wings.

Kaylia Dunstan

30 July 2021

Creative writing group on Balgay Hill, walking to the Muills Observatory
Nancy and Kaylia en route to the Mills Observatory. Image Matthew Knights

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