Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thompson Pond Essay

My first creative essay was published by the kind editors at and I thought I'd share a little of the process involved in creating that piece.

The essay began as an exercise in a course on nature writing that I was taking with Teresa Vilardi at Bard College. This was part of a continuing education program, which they unfortunately no longer offer.

In the beginning of the course, we wrote a lot of shorter pieces from prompts such as "write about a landscape that you have a particular affinity for." I wrote about the coast of Maine. But, the longer piece which we were to write about for the second half of the course had to be about a place in the Hudson Valley.

The essay had its birth as a free-write at the beginning of one of our classes. I often found the writing that came out of those free-writes magical, as if channeled from a spirit who writes much better than I do.

After the free-write, I took a trip to the Bard Library to research Thompson Pond. I had e-mailed Professor Kiviat who had done a great deal of scientific research on the pond and he suggested that I look up an article he had written in 1976 titled "The Wetland Flora of Thompson Pond, NY." In that article, I found answers to most of my questions about which category of wetland Thompson Pond fell into.

The rest of the piece came from a couple more walks around the pond and two other prompts--1) What's the spiritual journey that you are on in deciding to write from or into this landscape? and 2) Method acting of plants in your landscape. "Be" a floating mat or bog raft.

I did over 12 revisions of this essay. Linda Mussmann gave me a great deal of help with the final version. I can easily see myself continuing to work in this form, because the outside world offers so many different stories and symbols for us to connect with and lose ourselves in.

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