ScrapMoir How To #22: Use Your Life’s Soundtrack to Write Scrapbook Stories and Memoir, Part 3

by Bettyann Schmidt on January 13, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #65 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

by Bettyann Schmidt

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story.” ~Author Unknown

“Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature.” ~Kelly Scheaffer

How a Memoir Writer Learns to Listen as Nature Speaks

You’ve no doubt heard the admonition to “slow down and smell the roses.” Our modern world screams at us on a constant schedule. Our televisions and DVD movies, music, talk shows and car radios–especially, now, at the height of viscious political slander and hate-inspired discrimination language taking the form of red-faced, vein-popping Sunday morning preachers who’ve never learned a thing from the composed, beloved Billy Graham.

City clatter, garbage-can rattle, motors’ brashy whines. Store-shopping populations’ mumbles, sharp words to whining and tantrum prone children, clerks’ grumbles, bottles, cans, and boxes sliding into plastic bags. Parking lot scramble, wheeled carts clumsy banging,

It is a wonder that we survive on this planet, that we retain a shred of sanity. Unless we have a gateway to the natural world and a respite from society, I truly wonder how humans carry on. Our natural bodies are part of nature. The natural environment is where we survive. Without it, we invite ill consequences into our lives. No wonder that hoards of humans around the world, but especially in the U.S., don’t grasp why they suffer tension, restlessness, nervousness, and agitation on a daily basis.

What are some of the times when you feel like this? When does the world, the technology, the brashness, become so overwhelming that you feel out of sync with who you truly are? Describe those instances. Write them in your notebook, or in your online journal. Include them in your memoir writing. What are the feelings? What do you wish for?

“And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything”. ~William Shakespeare

Yes, nature has a voice. I asked my husband what were some of the sounds of nature he could describe. He said the “crunch of snow” under his boots. Presently, our farm is covered with a soft blanket of crunchable white. In the country, outdoors still has its daily chores. The animals have to be fed and looked after. This morning I watched from my dining room double door the scatter of birds visiting the feeders. Different colors and sizes lined themselves on the clothesline to wait their turn at our Audubon cafeteria. The sight warms my soul and gives me simple, quiet pleasure. I feel aligned with nature. I am grounded. I am home, a place where I’ve stayed long enough to experience the natural changes in my world and learn to be in sync with each.


 “Human nature is just about the only nature some people experience.” ~Abigail Charleson

“…Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy”. ~Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

What voices of nature speak to you? If you seldom hear, or feel, the natural world around you, why do you think that is? Is there some way you can remedy this?

Healing Voices

“How many stanzas in the springtime breeze?
How plenty the raindrops? As He doth please.
There is no meter and there is no rhyme,
Yet God’s poems always read in perfect time.”
~Astrid Alauda, Poems on Nature

In 2008, I was in need of emotional, physical, and mental healing. I had come to the end of myself, so to speak. Too much had befallen me, the proverbial Mack truck had run over me. Post-traumatic stress I can identify with now.

I ended up at a place, maybe the perfect place for me right then, in all the world. That place healed me as only a place in nature can. It’s name was Anna Maria Island on the west side of Florida’s Gulf. Standing on the shore one evening watching the sun descend from the water’s horizon, I heard a soothing voice inside, maybe my own, maybe not. But the voice, barely above that of the waves, spoke, “Everything is right.”

Not “all right,” but right. There are times in our lives when we should feel everything is simply “right.” Not that we are right. The world around us is right. But you say, the world is not right. Look at the violence, the environmental woes, child abuse and starvation, predators at large, injustice, graft and corruption at all levels. Unfortunately, this is so. But your world, and my world, wherever we are, can be right when everything around us is wrong. I learned this on that sandy shore of Anna Maria Island.


“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Can you recall a time when, surrounded by woes and trouble, you felt the world simply “right” for you? Can you describe how this took place? Was there a real place in nature that inspired this feeling?

Using Nature’s Creativity

“Nature is a writer’s best friend”. ~Agavé Powers


I’ve always been able to draw inspiration from nature’s wonder. The first books I read as a child that drew me into other worlds were Heidi and Little House on the Prairie. I was able to beam myself there. Right where those authors wrote about, the settings. I willed myself to be there. I wanted to feel like those young heroines in their stories.

These many years later, I’m fortunate to have a writing space where I can look up from the computer and see nature at any moment. Today I watched more snowflakes fall from the sky adding to the thick crunchy blanket outside my writer’s window. I’ve placed items on my table to inspire me, photos and the like, but my best writing friend is what’s outside my window.

What inspires your writing? Have you tried using nature to help you write, to foster ideas? Name one natural element in your world that you could use as your writer’s friend.

I would love to hear your comments. These also are my writer’s friends. They inspire me.

Bettyann Schmidt
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