FORAYS INTO NATURE ­ Blog ­ Susan Steggall

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An appropriate New Year’s resolution for a writer – write more. Write about the world around me. Just as I was thinking of re-visiting an essay published in Of Beasts and Butterflies, edited by Zena Shapter for the Northern Beaches Writers’ Group in 2019, serendipity showed its generous face. An important environmental theme in my story ‘Away with the Fairies’ (based on The Little Fairy Sister by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite & Grenbry Outhwaite, A & C Black, Ltd, London (first printed, 1923, reprinted 1929) is: if you disobey the gods of nature they will punish you. While my tale was an adaptation of an Australian fairy story, it had a serious intent: to voice my concern about the damage caused to the natural environment through human manipulation, and the drastic warming of the earth’s surface that has ensued. That serendipity arose in the course of Phillip Adams’ conversation with Matthew Colloff re his book Landscapes of the Heart, in a podcast of 29 December 2020.

Colloff was discussing the limitations of science to tell us much about how we make meaning of landscape, make meaning of place, and how it connects us to, not just a particular place in the landscape but connects us to our own identity in those places. History, literature and social research, and storytelling are vital. Colloff and Adams discussed Brian Elliott’s four stages of environmental consciousness: topographical, ecological, moral and the emotional. 

Topographical: what does the place look like?

Ecological: how does life arrange itself?

Moral: how does place influence people?

Emotional: how does nature deliver and influence our imagination.

My story does, I hope contribute, modestly, to the broader conundrum faced by fiction writers, namely how to make a difference in a meaningful way. ‘Away with the Fairies’ has been uploaded to my website.

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Download: Away with the Fairies.pdf
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