NATURE DEFICIT IN WRITING, TOO?

Most of you have probably read about Nature Deficit Disorder, or seen programs about it on television.  (Maybe it’s too bad we’ve come to identify so many problems as a “disorder” of one type or another, but at least that’s less negative than something like “Nature Deficit Illness” or “Attention Deficit Illness.” )  In any case, nature deficit is aligned with obese children–and fat adults, too.

The English word “nature” comes from Latin “nasci,” to be born. I guess that suggests  our roots in nature go back to our birth, beginning, and awakening.  But, the human body itself did not evolve amid concrete, asphalt, and steel.  Those things did not  exist when our distant ancestors roamed the land in search of food and shelter.  Our background is in nature, our “natural” tendency is to awaken and be more fully alive in nature.  Even today, many people who live in paved-over city areas head out into nature whenever the opportunity is offered.  Good for them!  Children are being encouraged to head outdoors for periods of running, climbing, and exploring, at least when wary parents can manage to allow this.  In fact those wary parents  would do well to spend more time in nature themselves.

I have lived outside some of the time for most of my life, and I survived and thrived.  (See my non-fiction book, “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,” for more information.)

Until recently, when the demands of a full-time writing career took over both our lives, my husband and I grew most of our food, climbed our hills, roamed the forest we live in and,  on vacation, camped out in living nature.

My first published works as a writer were all about nature. They were non-fiction; and essays and articles about outdoor life in the Ozarks–everything from making a garden on rocks and clay, to confronting snakes, ticks, and chiggers without trauma–appeared in magazines and newspapers around the United States, and even in some other countries, for many years. I was identified fully as a nature writer, and DEAR EARTH is made up almost wholly of my experiences among wild things.

Then my career evolved into news broadcasting, and I spent more and more time in meetings, and interviews. Nature appeared in my fifteen-minute news programs only rarely.

Another evolution came when I began writing fiction.  But, instead of continuing the evolution away from the natural world, it took me right back into it.  Plots in most of my mystery novels involve activities and events among Ozarks trees, hills and hollows.  Nature even provides clues in several of the stories.  (Most strongly in A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, and A RIVER TO DIE FOR.

As I write this, I have decided my next series novel will have to take Carrie, Henry,  some of their friends–along with this author–back out into the woods!  I hope you can join me.

So, how do you feel about “nature writing?”   If you are a writer, what place does the natural world– the world of wild things–have in your work?

http://www.RadinesBooks.com

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10 Responses to “NATURE DEFICIT IN WRITING, TOO?”

  1. Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People Says:

    Hi Radine, glad you enjoyed your visit to Claremore. Anyway, wanted to say that nature offers me many opportunities for sales, and I wrote about exactly that in my blog this week. Great minds obviously think alike 🙂

    Joan
    http://leftbrainedwritebrained.wordpress.com

  2. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    Ah yes, I read your blog — we have deer and we have ticks, and, at one time contemplated guineas. But here, neighbors say the darn birds tend to wander off down the road and end up getting killed by roaming dogs or cars. Does your neighbor close them in at night?

    Deer also eat low-hanging pears off our pear trees and squirrels eat higher ones from branches that will support them. Question: WHY don’t deer and squirrels get tummy aches from unripe fruit?

    I wish . . . Radine

  3. Terry Palardy (@thoughtsthreads) Says:

    I am a tree-hugger as well. I have a writing deficit, as it seems i spend more and more time reading Facebook updates and blogs. I love writing about wildlife (read “wild” as practically domesticated squirrels and chipmunks, birds of many description, and the occasional stray cat who comes to admire the bird feeder with me.)

    Since retiring, and finding I have limitless time on my hands, I have done far less nature writing than I used to. But I do have one section of my website (not blog, that’s different) reserved for commentary on nature’s vagaries in New England.

    I welcome you to read there … it’s a virtual calendar of sorts. Here’s the link: http://beyondoldwindows.webs.com/natureramblings.htm

    I also spend a lot of time reading and reviewing others’ books, but plan to spend more time on my own stories soon. I review books at http://terrysthoughtsandthreads.blogspot.com

    So, if you’re procrastinating and want a bit of nature from someone else’s hand, come on over!

    Terry

    • radine Says:

      Terry your comment about having time on your hands has me gasping. I think you’re the first person I’ve met in recent years who actually has that luxury! More of us should claim that, but right now I can’t see how I could. I do an occasional book review too, but have no time to read books except when I will be reviewing them.

  4. Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People Says:

    Good questions, Radine. My neighbor does put them up at night because the wooded area connecting our land shelters more than just deer. However, we have one coyote that has tried countless times during daylight hours to catch a guinea, and it’s like an Oklahoma version of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner cartoons. The guineas outsmart him at every turn (and fly into the trees when they can’t). The fact that the deer munch on most everything has helped with my writing sales, too. I’ve written how to keep deer out of my garden, and how if I want my to see any blooming day lilies I need to plant them close to the house. The blooming plant closest to the house I can’t seem to keep one particular doe away from, no matter what I try, is the hibiscus bush at the end of the front yard — but she only eats the upper flowers; nothing she has to bend down for. Lazy doe. This spring, when the temps climbed above normal and we had weeks of ‘no rain’, I did catch one doe and fawn come all the way to the side porch to drink from the cat’s water dish. People who don’t have to deal with deer have no idea how destructive they can be–we have a stand of cedars for privacy, and its an ongoing effort taking out the trees maimed as the herd goes through rutting season. The wildlife can be irritating, but with scenery as lovely as we have in Green Country, you and I have unique ways of generating writing sales by just stepping outside onto the porch. This morning, as the cat and I strolled, I used the spray from the garden hose to refresh the turtle that regularly turns up in my yard–he loves bananas.I count my green blessings each day, and know from reading your books that you do as well. Enjoy!

  5. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    LOVE the story about the turtle. We have them, too, (and as you may remember, I wrote about one in DEAR EARTH,) but I never thought of spraying them with the hose or feeding bananas. Hmm. Next time I see one, I’ll rush out with a banana. What fun!

  6. kathleenkaskawrites Says:

    Even though my Sydney Lockhart mystery series focuses on historic hotels, Sydney, like me, was a science teacher. Whenever I write a scene about the natural world, I do some research to make sure I have the names of fauna and flora correct.

  7. nashville jobs Says:

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I
    could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

    • radine Says:

      Gosh, I thought everyone hated those things, only tolerating them because they understand the necessity. No, I haven’t a clue about their origin or how one would acquire the little demons. 🙂

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