Write outside the box: Steps into Nature

Last Saturday I attended a workshop on expressive writing. The Reader Berlin, an editing house offering various author and publishing services, organized the workshop titled “Steps into Nature”.

Our teacher was Dimitra Didangelou. For the participants to experience at least something close to  nature, Dimitra took us to Viktoriapark in Kreuzberg where we let the creative juices flow. One of the assignments Dimitra gave us was to take in our surroundings and write down what we see, hear and feel. We had about 15 minutes (although I’m quite sure we spent at least 45 minutes observing and writing). Here’s my result. I didn’t edit it because it was an expressive writing assignment and I want to show you what happens when you just write without censoring your thoughts. I did break up the text in paragraphs, though, so you can read it more easily.

© trashbus / Renata Britvec, 2016

I am lying next to Roxanne on my red and blue checkered blanket. I am lying on my belly because it’s easier to write this way than sitting up. The blanket is a gift from my dad. He gave it to me when we bought my car. My black “spring car of beauty and joy”. He wanted me to have the blanket when I took the car and went someplace and wanted to take a break. I remember going from Augsburg to Croatia by car when I was a kid. Back then the whole Germany-based Balkan population went to their home countries by car. Turkish people, Greeks, Bulgarians and Yugos. We took breaks – it was hot – we spread our blankets underneath a group of trees and had a picnic.

Right now I hear some people singing, others are clapping. Next to my blanket there is a black comb lying in the grass. Somebody forgot it there. It looks like my dad’s. He always had one with him so he could comb his black hair and look nice.

Dimitra, who was just standing, is sitting down now. She is having a look at her notes. I like the color of her dress.

I feel cold. The day started out nice and sunny. But now it’s cloudy again. The sun doesn’t like Germany in general and Berlin especially, so it never stays long enough for you to feel warm.

Thierry is sitting opposite to me . He has a herschel rucksack. I was thinking about getting one, too. He’s wearing a red and white button down shirt but from the distance I can’t make out if the shirt is checkerd or striped. The pattern is delicate. He’s also wearing soft brown linen pants, sneakers in earth tones, interesting socks and a checkered hat.

An ant is crawling over my notebook. My hands smell weird. I think the scent comes from the stuff I put on my hair so it doesn’t get all fuzzy. The singing is going on and it kind of bothers me. I don’t know why exactly. It sounds like music for hippies and super-relaxed people who smoke a lot of weed.

Between Dimitra and Thierry, right behind them, there’s a maple tree with three stems. The holy trinity father son and holy ghost. Who is who and are they all the same? According to logic (in a philosophical way), they should be. What is one can never be seperated. That’s what God means.

Dimitra is doing exercises, she’s rolling her shoulders back and forth. I realize, the moment I see her doing this, I start wiggling my legs. I obviously pick up movement easily.

I feel tension in my body. Actually, it’s not tension. It’s just my muscles are a bit sore from my yoga session yesterday. I am hungry goddammit because I didn’t have the time to eat properly. Also the ground is moist and the moisture is tickling my body through my blanket pants and shirt.

There are two dogs running across the grass behind me, playing. I’d like a dog but I don’t want to keep it in an apartment.

My shoulder hurts. I worked on opening up my shoulder joints yesterday, that’s why it’s hurting now.

There’s quite a lot of trash lying around here. My black lighter is part of that trash now, too, because I lost it somewhere along the way. It makes me nervous to have lost it because I would really like to smoke now. I’ll ask one of the other women, she has a lighter, a red one.

Birds are chirping. Sparrows mostly. Right now I don’t feel like writing anymore. The weed music is really getting on my nerves now. I found a twig beneath my rucksack. It’s mossy and moist. I’d like to play with it rather than write. I’m playing with it. I’m moving it in the rhythm of the music. What an idiot I am. The music is not what’s bothering me. What’s bothering me is that I’m not part of it.

Someone’s sneezing. Everybody seems to be suffering from allergies these days. Must be horrible.

I’m sitting up because my belly is getting cold. The trees in Viktoriapark are nice and big. And yet this is not nature. Nature is wilderness, beautiful and cruel. Viktoriapark is cultivated. It’s there for stressed Berliners to relax and for relaxed Berliners to relax some more. Nature is not for relaxation. Werner Herzog once said: “And Klaus always says the jungle is erotic, but it’s not erotic, it’s misery and death and fornication and birds screaming in pain.” Ah Werner, you’re truly special and truly strange.

A blond girl to my far right is wearing a very pink dress. The neon color is almost hurting my eyes. A baby in a striped onesie is lying on it’s father’s striped chest. The baby is wearing a crocheted hat – its mom probably made it, because that’s what modern Berlin moms do – and it looks like a grandpa. It’s taking a nap.

OK now I really don’t feel like writing anymore. I’d rather smoke. I just took a picture with my 20-year-old Polaroid camera and now I’m really gonna smoke.

YEAH I found my lighter!!!

There you go. I had my break. Why is everbody looking in the same direction. I need to ask Roxanne how to pronounce CROCHETED correctly.

© trashbus / Renata Britvec, 2016

6 thoughts on “Write outside the box: Steps into Nature

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    1. Thank you, Audrey! It’s very interesting how you create momentum just by opening up. I think expressive writing is a very good starting point. From there, you can go anywhere. And then you edit. Mercilessly. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes. Editing is hell. On the other hand, I like editing. I’m an editor, after all 😉 It’s just hard to edit your own writing. How do you do it? How much time do you need before you can go back to your writing and edit it?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s a good idea to set a piece aside after the first draft, so you’re not in the fever of creation when you go back to edit it. At least a month, maybe several. I find it’s helpful to get some other opinions, as from a critique group, once you’re into the editing process. That can be annoying or even painful, but it’s worthwhile.


      3. Yes, I also need time between writing and editing, but it depends on the piece. Feedback is always painful, but … I have special people for feedback. I wouldn’t read my stories to other authors or a writing group, for example. But I do have editors and dramaturgs read them. Even though I’m always terrfied of what they might say. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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