Whether one is writing to change the world, or for the simple pleasure of recording one’s observations in a notebook, the relationship between the observer and nature is, at its core, always personal and intensely felt. It is this passion that has made nature writing so dynamic and also so accessible, to read and to write. The goal of “Seeing Nature in Words: A Nature Writing Workshop” is to encourage writers to explore their own special relationship with the natural world—whether that relationship is to the Catskills or a backyard garden, expressed as a description of a single flower or as an essay probing an environmental issue—in their own true voice.
Writers will be asked to write a maximum of 1,000 words, which translates into approximately 4 pages, double-spaced, TNR, 12 pt. to share with the class. (Writers will also be encouraged to submit their writing in advance, via email, to Leslie and the rest of the class, so that one’s writing may achieve maximum attention.) Journaling, or for that matter blogging, as in recording impressions in a naturalist’s notebook, is fine, and we will work to sharpen the writer’s eye and descriptive details. But if a writer aspires to write a finished personal essay, perhaps even for submission, with fully developed subject and theme, we will support that too.
Leslie’s approach, as an editor, as well as a writing teacher, is to find what works in the writing and to build on that. And that approach is rooted in her respect for every writer, and their work. What is especially important for writers is a workshop environment that allows them to feel safe—safe to express themselves, their thoughts and feelings, as well as observations—especially when working in those creative nonfiction forms (journaling, personal essay, memoir) that use the first person “I” voice, and that speak directly out of one’s personal experience.
Leslie is an author, editor, and educator. She began her editing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and is currently an editorial consultant specializing in literary nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press), which is regarded as the “modern editing classic.” Leslie was a regular contributor to New York Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column, and her essays and articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Global City Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and Village Voice, The Villager, The Writer, and Psychology Today. Her poems for children have appeared
in Ladybug Magazine, and she is currently at work on a poetry collection, Little Possums Book of Poems. She recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves. Leslie has taught writing and editing at Columbia University, New York University and the City College of New York.
Leslie’s newest book, The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of the Wild Catskills, a lyric narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains, published by The Overlook Press, was awarded a 2018 “IPPY” (Independent Book Publisher) Gold Medal Award for Excellence. Leslie was recently named by the Catskill Center, for inclusion in its May 2019 publication celebrating the Catskill Center’s fiftieth anniversary, as one of “Fifty Stewards of The Catskills, each chosen for their contribution to the Catskills environment, economy and community…. The fifty are from all walks of Catskill life, across the region—they are truly diverse, and all are inspiring role models for the future of The Catskills.” She is honored to be included in this group of leaders, “highlighting her contributions to the environment and culture of the Catskills, especially her nature writing and her book, The Quarry Fox.”
To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Class fee is $35.
Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org.