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Tearing down the dam 🌊
Evolving as a writer, and where that's taking me
My dear subscribers — I’ve skipped an installment of Field Notes to do some soul-searching. ✨
Perhaps in the busyness of summer and the other material landing in your inbox, you didn’t notice I missed my mid-month article. That would be entirely understandable. 😊 But it’s been on my mind and here’s why: I’ve been taking a hard look at what I want to put out into the world. I’ve spent time considering my offer to the world and what it is that I can contribute that would enrich your lives. Personally, I’ve felt inundated by content of varying quality and I’ve been through a process of weeding out that which is uninteresting, repetitive, or simply doesn’t have a place in my life anymore. So, on the flip side of that, I have been struggling to grasp my own place as a writer in this world.
Partly, it’s the ‘letdown’ after the build-up of launching a book into the world. I’m approaching a year since Lights to Guide Me Home hit the shelves and so I think it’s natural that I’m wondering what’s next for me.
Partly, I also have writer’s envy. I see how (seemingly) effortlessly other writers string sentences and thoughts together that are so beautiful and profound, they make me yearn for greater depth in my own writing. Some articles are so thoroughly researched, I envy the time those writers have been able to invest in it (knowing, of course, that I am making my own choices about where and how I spend my own precious time). I read works by experts who are perfectly positioned to offer something of particularly unique value to the world. But I don’t have a Ph.D. or a scientific background of any kind (apart from being a compulsively observant and curious person). I see how some books land on lists and get catapulted into the world; others make a quieter entry and we need to work harder to get seen.
I don’t say this to throw my own pity party; instead, it’s a genuine questioning of how my role as “Writer” plays out in the years to come.
Some of the writers I most respect are those who have no special letters next to their names. They have stayed true to themselves through the topics they take on. They research when they need to. They keep writing no matter what the response is to their work. These writers have developed a relationship with the craft as a muse, an outlet, an expression, and a vehicle that evolves with time.
To say I’m a generalist as a writer would perhaps be an understatement. To date, I’ve been a blogger, journalist, freelance writer, copywriter, screenwriter, children’s book author, essayist and memoirist. These various writing styles are bonded by overall themes: outdoors, adventure and travel. Field Notes has been an exploration of these themes through the lens of personal development, something that transpired rather inadvertently I think due to the radical shifts I was experiencing during the pandemic.
But, I want Field Notes to be even more, both for me and for you. I’ll admit I hold back for fear of a few things: writing articles that are too long, exposing parts of myself when I might come across as self-indulgent, or changing the style here to one that might be more poetic, hinging on storytelling of greater depth. What I yearn for is to be unapologetically me and to take the words I need to do that. Because why would I be anything else?
So you might notice a subtle — maybe more significant — shift here on Field Notes as I permit myself to explore my writing in new ways.
A friend recently suggested my writing would mature if I took greater risks (something I wholeheartedly agreed with). But I’ve been questioning: What does risk look like? Risk for me doesn’t need to be provocative or controversial. I think it lies in my willingness to break out of the confines I’ve put on myself and my writing. That might mean saying things that are uncomfortable to say. But it mostly means tearing down the dam that has prevented my words from flowing more freely, in a writing style that is entirely and uniquely my own.
I’ve long believed that if we don’t evolve, we expire. I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey off the beaten track. I have no regrets for where my writing has taken me so far in my career. But I’m excited to peek over the next pass and see what might lie beyond.
Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the author of Lights to Guide Me Home. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications.
What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I waited way too long to read this book but I’m glad I at least finally picked it out of my ‘to be read’ pile. As someone looking to educate myself with Indigenous perspectives on how humans can relate to our natural world and to each other, I was drawn to the title. What I didn’t expect was to find some of the best essay writing I’ve ever read, and a style that inspires me as a person to look deeper and as a writer to work harder at my craft.
Pennsylvania-born Quaker Mary Schäffer Warren was 43 years old when she reinvented herself as a mountain explorer, photographer and writer. The year was 1903, so you can imagine how bold she was to step outside of both cultural and gender norms to make her unique mark on Canadian Rockies’ history. Schäffer is the subject of a documentary film I have the pleasure of co-producing and researching for called Wildflowers. I hope you’ll check out our freshly-launched website: wildflowersfilm.ca.
Our first news piece: Our August 2023 trip to revisit Schaffer’s journey through the Maligne River Valley.
Check these out too… 🙌
Lights to Guide Me Home: A Journey Off the Beaten Track in Life, Love, Adventure and Parenting - my memoir (reviews welcome on Amazon and Goodreads)
The Wonders That I Find - my children’s book
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