Last week I made my debut as a wildlife guide! As part of the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival I hosted a woodland writing workshop in my local patch in Moray. My own writing is always enhanced when I incorporate all my senses so during the workshop I encouraged the participants to pick up on sounds, smells and textures as well as sights.
For three hours we roamed through the forest, which on that sunny morning was full of birdsong and the last few coconutty whiffs of gorse flowers. I think the highlight for all of us was spotting a wood ant nest right beside the path. On closer inspection, we saw an individual ant carrying a feather three times its size!
I loved sharing my patch with new people and hearing some really beautiful writing. I was particularly pleased that two of the ladies, Suzy and Elizabeth, became completely immersed in their own conversation. Suzy has since spoken about the workshop and her chat with Elizabeth on her podcast.
As this was my first guiding experience I was nervous about how it would go but I received some fantastic feedback. “I enjoyed your walk and workshop very much,” Elizabeth told me. “It was so good to slow down, listen to birdsong and look at trees and flowers. It was a memorable few hours.”
Elizabeth’s friend Martina also said that she felt absolutely no pressure when it came to the writing task, which I was delighted to hear. She described the new pine sprigs as “chandeliers”, and when she pointed them out to us it made complete sense! I think it’s far better for a writer to describe something they say in a way that’s unique to them, rather than a technical term that not everyone would know. When I see pine branches that look like this again I’ll think of Martina!
I was thrilled that the workshop went so well. I shall be running similar events in the next festival, taking place in September. As a writer who spends a lot of time working alone, it was a refreshing change to wander with like-minded women and share work and perspectives. What a rewarding morning!