Discover more from Notes From the Margin with Wendy Pratt
Walking the lane in September light
‘Harvesting acorn to feed swine’ detail of a miniature from Queen Mary Psalter (BL Royal 2 B VII) Held and digitised by the British Library.
Walking the lane this week has saved my sanity as I simultaneously finish edits on the manuscript for The Ghost Lake, get issue 09 of Spelt Magazine to the printers and hand in a complex Arts Council England grant application for some Spelt projects. Despite their pledges to ensure all people can get support to apply to the arts council, I still found the application system clunky, off putting, frustrating and not in any way transparent or helpful. It literally gave me a migraine trying to get through it. Usually I would have a big rant here about the difficulties that working class people in particular find when putting applications like this together, but I’m wasting no more time on it. I have books to finish, projects to start and the glorious cool autumn air to experience. Stepping out into that air, walking the old dog through the already falling leaves and the beech mast has been like someone putting cool hands on my fiery brain and soothing it directly.
Beech masts - the fallen nuts of the beech tree are everywhere in the village right now; a carpet of nuts that crunches pleasantly when walked over. We are a village of lime trees in the newer part of the village, at the top, then beech trees in the lower part, over the marshier ground. The word Mast comes from the Old English ‘Mæst’ - the nuts of trees fallen on the ground and used for feeding animals, especially for fattening pigs. My village is an ancient one, its name has viking roots and roughly translates as hamlet of the pig keepers. This is one of those facts that is like a door opening to the past, a thin place where I might step through, know myself as one of a long line of villagers. Here are the beech trees, and here, in the very naming of the place, the tree-ancestors, the pig herders moving their woolly sided pigs between them over the marshy, boggy ground. And back, further back, here is the bronze age burial ground on the cliff edge above the village, and here, the path that goes from the lane of the beech trees up to the burial ground. I imagine the villagers of the bronze age making their way up to their ancestors with offerings. There is a peace in the continuity of habitation. I like to walk here and know myself within it. I like to remind myself that people have been surviving here for thousands of years. The autumn air and walking in this place is helping me to connect to The Ghost Lake, helping me find my way through the edits, sharpening, honing, bringing the book home. It’s a beautiful process. One day I’d like to simply do this for a living, to walk, to write.
Introducing Notes from the Margin Subscriber Tier
I am delighted to announce that I have added a new subscription tier to my newsletter, Notes from the Margin, which will offer a platform for creative commitment and community with weekly posts including creative prompts and advice and some live zoom events. Here’s a bit about it.
I started Notes from the Margin in February. I’ve been writing a blog for about 15 years (what?!). Substack offered a platform that allowed more direct connection with readers. I’ve been running email-based courses and workshops for about 8 years and it’s been wonderful to have had a part in helping people meet their writing goals.
Eight months later and a lot has happened since my move to Substack. I’ve written a non-fiction book, landed a book deal, and found a publisher for a new poetry collection. 2024 is going to be a super busy and exciting year and now I find I’m at a turning point in my life. I need to streamline my facilitator work.
I’m adding a paid subscription tier to my newsletter for two reasons:
to help support my own writing
to ensure I can carry on my much-loved work helping people to meet their writing goals and building a friendly, creatively conscious community.
The first two subscriber posts are already live. Another will arrive tomorrow.
I’ve priced the subscription at £5 a month or £50 for a year’s subscription to keep it accessible. I know money is tight, I feel it too, and if you don’t want to or can’t sign up for paid, that’s fine! There is still the free version of Notes from the Margin.
Notes from the Margin is a big commitment for me, and one I am happy to make. I’d like to expand in the future to include guest writer events, paid subscriber only retreats, courses and workshops and some fun writer gatherings too.
I hope I’ll see you there. Thank you so much for your support. If you want to help me out in my new venture, a share on social media, or letting a writer group or writer friends know about it would be hugely appreciated!
Notes From the Margin with Wendy Pratt is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The Dawn Chorus
Last week was September’s Dawn Chorus early morning zoom writing group. We took inspiration from Sharon Olds, Kathleen Jamie, Kate Fox, Josie George and John Burnside.
It was a lovely, calming week of early morning creativity. If you want to join us for a quiet hour of prioritising your own writing, the next Dawn Chorus begins on Monday 9th October 2023. This button will give you more information.
Until next time