This post by Gayle M. Irwin
A pine squirrel chattered from a nearby lodgepole. Brown-spotted butterflies danced from one wildflower to another, and a mule deer buck, antlers in the velvet, sauntered through the forest. The 4th of July weekend reverberated with quiet. Instead of firecrackers and other celebratory noises, America’s birthday party provided me tranquility, an opportunity to ponder, and moments of reflection, experiencing gratitude not only for freedom, but also for peace.
Peace may not be evident everywhere, including in our own country currently, but on this day, and for several days during that holiday week, I basked in quiet. The forest surrounding my cabin, 8,000 feet in elevation and just 20 minutes from my house in town, offers tranquility – and for that I’m thankful. For nearly 14 years, my husband and I have been able to escape the “noise,” not just of fireworks, but also of the ambience of town with emergency sirens, tire squeals, kids screaming, parents yelling, dogs barking… Instead of all that commotion, we hear the breeze whispering, the birds singing, the squirrels chattering, and our dog snoring. And often, the tapping of my fingers on the computer’s keyboard.
I love writing in the woods! I find inspiration in the landscape I see and the nature sounds that I hear. I’ve composed entire books and chapters of books at our mountain property. I’ve written short stories for magazines, newspapers, and Chicken Soup compilations while under the shade of towering pine trees. I’ve created blog posts, including this one, inside the cabin and dreamed of making a living as a freelance writer and online entrepreneur while sitting in the forested sunshine.
Our mountain property is a gift and a blessing. I walk the woods of our land, and I write inside the cabin or outdoors amongst the trees. I share the gift of this property with other writers once a year when I invite those in my local group for an afternoon retreat. We write in the woods, we fellowship, we share, we create, we laugh, we eat, we encourage. There’s just something about writing in the woods, away from the noise and distractions of town, that bring creatives together and stimulates the muse. Whether it’s a song, a poem, a short story, or the chapter of a book – writing in the tranquility of the forest, surrounded by an audience of creatures, inspires many of us who enjoy nature.
As Scottish naturalist and writer John Muir said, “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
A book of some of his words, purchased while visiting Alaska’s Denali National Park last month, sits on a table in the cabin. Muir inspired people of his day and continues to inspire nature writers and others. His walks and wonderings through woodlands of all types, from the forests of California and Alaska to the dirt trails of the Grand Canyon, helped establish some of America’s national parks and left a legacy. There’s just something about writing in the woods.
I may never be like John Muir, where my writings and beliefs inspire people for generations or create something as important as a national park, but what I do write can make a difference in someone’s life today. My first book, Sage’s Big Adventure: Living with Blindness, came out 10 years ago. I’ll never forget an email I received from a woman in North Carolina who worked in a pediatric AIDS hospital:
“It is so wonderful for you to write such a great book for children! I will be using your book with our HIV/AIDS children as an educational tool. All children need exposure to the many disabilities we continue to be challenged by, especially our group, as they face the daily struggle of being different.”
I cherish that note, and I think of a Wayne Watson song “For Such a Time as This” based upon Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible. The chorus states, “For such a time as this I was placed upon the earth, to hear the voice of God and do His will, whatever it is….” The song was used in a 1999 episode of the TV show Touched by an Angel, starring Roma Downey and Della Reese. Although I may not be instrumental in helping free slaves as the program’s story showcased, my writings can – and do – make a difference in some people’s lives. So, when I write in the woods, and share my special space with others (as well as share my writings with others), I do so knowing I may never be famous like John Muir, Jon Katz, or Roma Downey, but I am doing the work I feel called to do “for such a time as this.” And I oftentimes do that writing work in the woods.
Where is your favorite writing space? Why do you write what you write?
Read a post about Special Spaces which I wrote this month for Sundown Press’ blog site: http://sundownpress.blogspot.com/2017/07/special-spaces.html
Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming author and freelance writer. Her inspirational pet books for children and adults teach valuable life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. She is a contributing writer to magazines and newspapers, including pet stories in the Colorado-based Prairie Times. Her short story about a rescue dog, titled Jasmine’s Journey, will appear in the August Chicken Soup for the Soul release called The Dog Really Did That? This will be her seventh contribution to the Chicken Soup series. Learn more about Gayle and her work at www.gaylemirwin.com.