An Unruly Story

Writing is a rather random thing.

Occasionally, a perfectly formed sentence, a poetic turn of phrase or snippets of intriguing conversation gallop towards one out of the blue. You need to be quick!  Grab a pencil and try, at least, to pin down the tail of the thought as it races by.  Sometimes you can’t catch it, and it is gone for good.

I was fortunate to spend this past weekend on Elana Bregin’s Autumn Writing Retreat at Solitude in Dargle.  Hoping to absorb some of her wisdom on the mysterious writing process.   “Confusion is the doormat of creativity,” she told us, “writing is often a messy process, but you must have chaos to give birth to a dancing star.”

The ever-so-slightly unruly writers gathered beneath the autumn trees, included a witty accountant in search of her real life, a young man getting to grips with the meaning of masculinity, avid letter writers, seasoned bloggers, teachers with tales to tell and lots of questions about life.

Elana’s gentle guidance, the quiet reflections, the full moon around the fire circle, cups and cups of tea and Rocket Cafe’s delicious food were perfect ingredients to tether our creativity.

We walked a little, talked a little, read a little, wrote a lot and spent some time in silence.

We learnt that what we really needed to do (according to Isabelle Allende) was provide the solitude and discipline, and the story would write itself.  Constantly jotting down the ‘originating moments’ – ideas, feelings, sentences. “You want things to squidge out,” Elana encouraged.

We surrendered to the process, unleashed our inner storyteller and captured the unraveling tales before they vanished over the hill.

Then we shared our freshly crafted stories –  of cheekily chattering yellow daisies, a small fierce woman in a flimsy blouse, whispering grass imbued with the spirit of life, one wild night with Frederico, dogs named Dandelion and Daffodil – some flash fiction, some poetry, many beautiful blessings.

The right side of our brains reveled in the colours, the conversation and natural inspiration. The left side was pleased to learn the basic structure of a story – about tension and plot, conflict, context and character development.   I wrote this poem.

Write Right

flick the switch

forget left

sho’t left

take the road less travelled

right is never wrong

kick up the leaves

leave the lists, the logic, the looking for loopholes

dive into copper cloud folds

revel in the moon rimmed glow

winkle out whatever is left of your imagination

turn right to write

watch mist rise, shadows shift

monkeys silent silhouette

stuff your suitcase with all it takes

launch the boat

it’s your journey to create

go right

Nature, and, in particular Autumn, inspired many of us.  There were puff adder and leopard sightings, sunlit monkeys, a whirl of black and blue as a sleek drongo snatched a freshly-freed butterfly in mid-air,  a frenzy of frogs and incredible skies.

In the embrace of a copper coloured tree, I wrote

At the Autumn Ball

gowns of old gold dance in the low-slung light

avenues shrug off saffron shawls

skirts swirl kissed by the cinnamon sun

translucent sleeves flutter and fall

the clock strikes

the season turns

and then, it is winter

We explored what turns on our writing lights and what shuts them down. We searched for the perfect word, made new friends, swam in the dam and howled at the moon.  We rebelled, we questioned, we danced in the leaves, we kept the pages turning.

Follow Elana on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss her next writing retreat.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Wanda Hennig says:

    Wow! — to that poem At the Autumn Ball. What an evocative piece of writing all round. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thank you Wanda!


  2. Christeen says:

    Nikki I love your poetry, it so suits your style of writing, beautiful blog and photos! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so my friend. xxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. naturebackin says:

    The photos are lovely too! 🙂


    1. Thanks! Realised that I am never going to be a novel writer. Am too visually driven for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. naturebackin says:

        I think that poetry can be almost a crossover as it can translate the visual into words!


        1. I agree absolutely! Think that is why discovering poetry has been such utter joy doe me.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    so beautifully captured.. the poems just the ice-cream!


    1. Great praise from an ice cream addict!


  5. Brilliant Nikki – I LOVE your writing it evokes such good emotions


    1. Thank you Pam! Hope this stirred lovely memories of the time you went on one of Elana’s workshops too. xx


  6. desdesignsdot says:

    My goodness, your poems are beautiful. I can see what you write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, beautiful Des. Adore your profile pic, by the way.


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