#blacklivesmatter

George Floyd

BlackLivesMatter.com, art by Nikkolas Smith

We must say the names of victims of racial prejudice and violence. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Bothem Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Aiyana Jones ….These are just a few of the people who have been senselessly killed in the past several years due to the extreme violence and racism that Black people in the U.S. face daily. We must listen to their stories. We must not forget them. 

The UMF English faculty condemns the treatment of Black people through extreme police force and demands an end to the systemic racism threatening the lives of BIPOC-people in this country. We are committed to the safety and well-being of our students of color. We acknowledge our responsibility in not doing enough to end the violence against Black people, and we pledge that we will work even harder to make our classrooms safe spaces for students to experience equality, respect, and justice. 

As students and faculty in English, we understand the power of language and the need to listen closely to diverse voices in different cultural contexts. We must support actions to bring justice and peace. Therefore, we commit ourselves to talking about racism in America, to engaging in critical discourse about anti-racism, and to recognizing how racial violence and prejudice impacts Black Americans and people of color not only across the country, but also in our own communities–in our neighborhoods, places of worship, classrooms, and more. 

The events of this week have been difficult for all of us. We recognize that they may have been especially difficult for our students of color. Moreover, we recognize that our students of color face many obstacles on a daily basis. If there are ways that we can support you beyond what we have outlined here, please let us know. One of the things we love about our community is the fact that it allows us to develop close relationships with our students: each one of you matters to us. We’re here, and we’re listening.

English Majors Coping with Social Distancing

By Robert Drinkwater

With college campuses closed across the country due to Covid-19, students now have to do online classes via zoom from home. This is a time of adjusting to our schedules that have been drastically changed. As students, we now have to take classes at home and adjust to online classes and social distancing. Everyone has been coping with this differently through all of this change. English majors Henry Wanat, Katie Shupp, and Ali Hooper have shared their thoughts on dealing with this.

Henry

  1. How are you coping with social distancing?

While I am an introvert, I crave daily human interaction. In order to cope with social distancing, I have been becoming increasingly active on the streaming platform Twitch.tv as well as playing games online with my friends over Discord. It has been helpful to have regular classes over Zoom.

2. How are your online classes going?

My online classes are going pretty well, considering. Sometimes it is awkward since I do not have access to a webcam, but my professors have been taking the transition in stride.

3. How has this change in academics affected you overall?

This has dramatically affected my academics, because I do not have that personal interaction with my professors that I came to UMF for. Now that I am at home, it has been a struggle to stay motivated and to find an adequate place to study in an otherwise busy household.

Katie

  1. I’m coping okay. I think that it’s for the best. As much as I want to be with my friends and on campus, I think it’s definitely going to be better and safer for everybody. Personally, I feel better surrounded by people, so being around my family is a little bit tough, but it’s definitely better for everybody around the world and it’ll be okay.

2. They’re going pretty okay. English, I feel like is easier to do online than other classes, mostly because the ones I’ve been in at least have all been discussion based than essay, lecture, or lab stuff, so I think it’s easier for us because we could easily zoom or have text conversations on what we’re doing in class. It’s been pretty okay. I’m happy with what I’ve been doing.

3. It’s making me more aware with how much time I’m spending. Before, I was spending more time with everything all together at one time and now I’m splitting it up into hour increments where I’m doing one thing at one time. I feel like I’ve been noticing I need to spend more time on each class than I have been so I’m thinking more study time. I think that goes hand in hand with making schedules. I’m hoping that everything’s going to stay the same and not gonna change and go negative. I feel like everything’s going to go up from here, so I’m staying positive.

Ali

  1. Social distancing has been really hard. I’m a social person and I miss bumping into past classmates and professors around campus. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to live with my good friends, and I speak to my family often so I don’t feel lonely, but I miss physically being in a community.

2. Internet aside, I think my classes are just starting to make sense again. After the initial scramble to figure everything out, I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish the semester. I’m glad I stuck with it because it’s really starting to come together and make sense again, but it’s taken a while.

3. I’m finding that who I am as a student has changed a lot since transitioning online. I’ve always put school first and been very organized and focused, but with recent events I’m finding my focus has shifted. Getting organized has been a fruitless battle, deadlines in my classes are still shifting, assignments are being added and dropped, and writing daily to-do lists is only adding to my stress not helping it. I’ve had to adopt a go with the flow attitude and learn to just take each day as it comes. My motivations, energy and environment have changed, along with the expectations I held myself too. I’m not longer aiming for A’s, just aiming to get though this semester with my sanity in tack.

Film Review: Emma (2020)

With various levels of sheltering in place happening during the recent pandemic, movie studios have starting making recently released films available for viewing at home through a variety of pay services. I had been itching see the new film version of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, directed by Autumn De Wilde (and starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the title character) because I love the novel, and I mostly love the various adaptations of it (and there have been a lot), especially Amy Heckerling’s resetting of the story in 1990s California in Clueless (1995), with Alicia Silverstone as the Emma character (renamed Cher in this version).

I mostly liked Emma 2020, and, if hadn’t read the novel (or seen any of the other movie versions), and didn’t have any of the expectations that I brought to the film, it’s a perfectly fine and enjoyable movie, and if you’ve already seen the movie and enjoyed it, I don’t want to harsh your squee, but, as much as I want to write a breezy and pleasant review, I have a feeling I won’t be able to contain some of the irritation I felt while watching the film—any more than I could prevent myself from jumping up (much to the annoyance of my cats) and yelling, “Oh, no, no no no no no no, oh, hell no” on at least three occasions.

What I really liked about the film were the portrayals of Emma’s father Mr. Woodhouse by Bill Nighy, and Miss Bates by Miranda Hart. These are both minor characters who usually get short shrift in the adaptations, but they are more fully realized characters here, both of whom, I think, get more screen time than Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson) and Frank Churchhill (Callum Turner), and both of whom deliver the comedy that a romantic comedy needs. Nighy’s Mr. Woodhouse is as vigorously energetic as he is an equally vigorous hypochondriac. His aggressively ordering his servants about with standing screens to shield him from (likely non-existent) drafts is one of the highlights of the film.

Miss Bates, as a character, is known for talking a lot and saying little, which annoys Emma to no end, but, the difficulty with such a character is that she can also become very annoying very quickly to the reader or the viewer, but the performance here by Miranda Hart is deftly comic in multiple ways. And, in the best staged scene from the novel, Emma’s callous insulting of Miss Bates at a picnic, Hart’s performance of confusion, hurt, and embarrassment effectively underscores how “badly done indeed” Emma’s actions have been, especially welcome in a film that otherwise treats its heroine and her mistakes a bit too generously.

At one point, Mr. Elton (who Emma mistakenly believes is in love with her friend Harriet, when it is Emma that he wants to marry) encourages Emma to paint a portrait of Harriet, offering to purchase an appropriate frame for the painting when finished. One of the better moments in the film is the revelation of that frame, which is both expensive and ostentatiously tasteless, and, delightfully, equipped for sound.

Although the 1996 Emma (with Kate Beckinsale) does this as well (and perhaps does it with more consistency), I like the way the film shows us the role of servants in Emma’s world. Especially in the early part of the movie, they are constantly present (even as Emma seems not to notice their existence).

About twenty minutes into the film, we are introduced to a character getting dressed, and my first thought was, who is that?  Is that Frank Churchhill? And here, dear reader, is the crux of the problem with the film for me, as we eventually discover that this is Mr. Knightly (Johnny Flynne) of Donwell Abbey, friend of the Woodhouses, and brother to John Knightly, who has married Emma’s sister Isabelle. And, as Emma and Mr. Knightly comment, the fact that he is a brother-in-law and not a brother means that there is nothing improper about them dancing together, although, it does raise a familial barrier to potential romance, as does a pretty hefty age difference in the novel (close to twenty years?).

Mr. Knightly and Mr. Churchhill are veritable opposites, Mr. Knightly’s steadiness and concern for others contrasted with Frank’s caprice and self-centeredness, his maturity and emotional control a contrast to Frank’s youth and (upon occasion) youthful pique. At no point in an Emma adaption should one ever be  able to confuse one for the other. No, no, no, no, just, hell no.

That difference should be clear from the moment we first see each character. Mr. Knightly should not have the best head of hair in the film, and the most beautifully styled (certainly among the male characters). With his bushy blonde hair and generally youthful appearance, Mr. Knightly looks like he stepped out of a California beach movie and into period clothes. And certainly, any character who has clearly spent two hours in front of a mirror carefully arranging his hair to create a faux-disheveled appearance has no business complaining about Frank Churchill’s vanity and foppishness in traveling to London for a haircut.

When Frank Churchhill appears (Callum Turner), there seems little difference between them (except that Frank’s hair is cut shorter and seems to get little attention from him). To be fair, actor Johnny Flynne is close to being the right age to play Mr. Knightly (he’s a few years older than the 30 year old Callum Turner), and he is significantly older than Anya Taylor-Joy, so the age difference is there between the actors . . . . but that difference doesn’t play on the screen.

After dancing with Emma (after he rescues Harriet from the snubbing by Mr. Elton), Mr. Knightly is so overcome with emotion that, after Emma boards a carriage to take her home, he runs all the way through the grounds by himself, arriving at Emma’s house shortly after she does and watching her enter. And, I’m not sure where the next scene takes place, perhaps he wanders forlornly back to Donwell, but he goes into a dark empty room, where he tosses off his shirt, and throws himself down on the floor in emotional anguish. No, no, no no no no, just hell no. Such adolescent acting out of emotion is completely at odds with the Mr. Knightly that we see in the novel. For that matter, it would be too much for the more emotional Frank Churchhill.

As is the case with the 1996 version of Emma (with Gwynth Paltrow in the title role), Emma 2020 reimagines the novel from a modern perspective, projecting contemporary understandings of individual psychology and social roles onto the characters. As numerous reviewers have pointed out, the film uses clothing to suggest the artifice of social roles, and it uses the removal of clothing to suggest moments when the characters are being their private—real—selves. This is not the understanding of character that informs the novel, but it’s a reasonable interpretation for a contemporary film to take that approach (although, I must admit, I have found the reviews to be a little annoying, as they seem to suggest that the film is correcting a mistake that Austen made, failing to consider that our current sense of the relationship between the individual and society is no more the absolute truth about the way things are than the understanding of Austen’s era).

There’s a hilarious moment in the film when Emma and Mr. Knightly walk through a room, and the camera stays in place after they’ve moved on, and we realize that Mr. Woodhouse is sitting there, so thoroughly surrounded by screens that only a part of his head is visible. I love the way the director keeps the camera in place and lets us find him.

But that scene also seems emblematic of the film’s view of humanity. We are all isolated and alone. And, more than any adaptation of the novel that I’ve seen, there are multiple scenes of the characters by themselves. The letter writing and letter sharing that are central to the novel, part of the technology of the era that enables community and communication, is barely referenced in the film.

For a two hour movie, there are so many elements of the story that are missing, and, as a result, a lot of the characters seem flat and lifeless. Frank Churchhill barely makes an impression, and, with the exception of a delightfully energetic piano performance, Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson) seems barely there. The friendship that develops between Emma and Frank (they are very much alike in their intelligence, fondness of dancing and games, and possessing a bit too much uncontrolled imagination) in other versions of the story is not developed here. There are also a number of moments (various puzzles and games, Harriet’s destruction of her precious mementos of Mr. Elton) that aren’t there in the film. A film needs to cut things, but other versions of the story have managed to have reasonable running times and still fleshed out the relationships between the characters.

Emma 2020 spends so much time observing the characters in isolation that the relationships between characters seem underdeveloped. This makes sense in terms of the film’s philosophy that humans are only truly themselves in private, and, thus, we spend more time observing those moments. I think that approach works pretty well, even if it’s not what I’m looking for in an adaptation of Emma.

So, if I’m thinking of Emma adaptations that I’ve seen, I believe I would rank them this way.

  1. Clueless
  2. Emma (2009; miniseries, with Romola Garai as Emma and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly); with four one hour episodes, the miniseries has the advantage of more time to be more inclusive of characters and incidents from the novel).
  3.  Emma (1996; with Gwynth Paltrow, and, philosophically, very close to the 2020 version, but also very much a romantic comedy, and a very enjoyable romantic comedy, and, also, Ewan McGregor as my favorite version of Frank Churchhill).
  4. I’m going to place Emma (2020) and Emma (1996) as tied. Both are good and worthwhile, but it’s hard to imagine more different versions of the same story. Emma (1996) is more critical of Emma as a character, and is a little creeped out by age difference between Emma and Mr. Knightly, and, thus, really plays up that difference.

Upcoming Sigma Tau Delta Events

By Robert Drinkwater

This semester Sigma Tau Delta (also known as STD) is having several events happening on campus. STD is the English honor society of UMF. Some of the perks of joining this group includes getting a cord at graduation, going to conventions and meeting famous authors, publication opportunities, it looks good on resumes, and it is a lifetime membership. The requirements to join is a registration fee of $45 and you have to take two or more English classes. The STD induction night will be on April 26th at 4pm. At this event each inductee will read their own speech and get a certificate and pin.

Every Wednesday from 11:45 to 1 they will be selling literary buttons out in the Student Center. These buttons cost $1, most of which has bookish puns on them. One of my favorites said “Read Thoreau-ly”. They will also be having an event called “Blind Date With A Book” from February 11th to the 14th where STD will be selling wrapped books and pastries just in time for Valentines Day.

On March 5th, STD will be having a Tea Part in the Landing at 7pm. Everyone is invited to attend this event. Guests can bring their own teacups and wear period or Alice in Wonderland themed costumes.

Interview With UMF English Major Amber Soha

Why did you decide to be an English major?

  I have always been so inspired by the enthusiasm of all of my English professors. That, combined with a love of reading, interpreting, storytelling and writing are why it was a no-brainer for me.

What brought you to UMF?

            I had settled and grown roots in this area, and I wanted to try the college experience again, so it seemed only logical to apply to my local university. I had actually dropped out of UMF many moons ago, and I was given a second chance—the type of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often—which was further reason for me to believe that UMF was the right place for me. 

What do you plan on doing after you graduate?

            I am considering grad school at some point, but I am not sure yet. I am hoping to find work as an editing and content manager, but I’m not settled on any particular position at this point. I am always searching for the potential things I can do with my degree, and there are so many!

What is your favorite thing about being an English major?

            I get to do what I love! From reading to discussing (sometimes arguing), and the skills I’ve learned about effective communication, research, citing evidence and critical thinking.

What is your favorite English course that you have taken so far?


Such a difficult question! So far, I really love the English courses that have been cross-listed with one of my minors: Women’s and Gender Studies, and I think that part of this is because there’s always such lively discussion at this intersection.

Interview With UMF English Major Billie Rose Newby

By Robert Drinkwater

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What made you want to become an English major?

I actually didn’t start out as an English major. I came here as a creative writing major. I found that my English classes were also very engaging and were very intellectually interesting to me. I decided to pursue both English and Creative Writing as a double major and I do not regret that choice.

What brought you to UMF?

I’m from Delaware, which is quite far away. I knew I wanted to go into creative writing. I went to check out schools down south, I went to California. I realized I wanted to go to New England. I love the cold weather and the snow! UMF is one of the three creative writing programs in New England. It was also one of the best school tours. I went on a tour in February when the ground was covered in snow. I loved it. I also came here because I wanted something new.

How has your time as an English major here been like for you?

It has been a lot of reading which is wonderful and difficult at times. I know how to speak English, but there are so many interesting things about this language. I’m still learning the intricacies of language.

What do you plan on doing after you graduate from UMF?

I’m constantly changing my mind about what I want to do after college. I’m building up skill sets that I can virtually go anywhere with my degree. My current plans are communications and international travel.

What has been your favorite English class been at UMF so far?

That’s a tough question, but in terms of what I learned the most in, I’d have to say linguistics. I’ve improved so much in my understanding of the English language and other languages. Another class I enjoyed was Misty Krueger’s Transatlantic 18th Century Women Writers course that I am taking this semester. It has introduced me to a variety of rather obscure literary texts that I may not have encountered otherwise. The discussions are engaging and the material we are reading is fascinating.

Interview with Elisa Albert

By Robert Drinkwater

Writer Elisa Albert will be visiting UMF on Thursday, November 14th in The Landing at 7:30pm. She will be this semesters last visiting writer. Albert has written three books: How This Night is Different, a collection of short stories published in 2006, The Book of Dahlia, published in 2008, and her most recent novel, After Birth, published in 2015, that tells a story of motherhood and alienation after pregnancy. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Gulfcoast, The Rumpus, and much more.

1. How would you describe your writing process?

Writing is a practice, and practice is by definition an ongoing thing. Process is about engagement. The external noise has to be muted at some point to allow for that. And the butt has to be in the chair a certain amount. I don’t know any shortcuts.

2. Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I suspect “writer’s block” is a pseudonym for something else. Fear or anxiety or self doubt or perfectionism or entitlement or what have you. It’s important to keep those things in their place, and not let them run the show. I’ve never really bought into the idea that I might sit down one day in front of a blank page and have no way to enter into an engagement with the process. I might not love what I find when I enter into engagement with the process, but it’s my job to work it out, is all.

3. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, because I resonated with books and with reading, but I thought I should be practical about it and do journalism or work in publishing or something, so I tried those things, but stories and novels were always where it was at for me.

4. Has your writing been influenced by your own personal life?

Sure, somewhat like one’s bowel movements are influenced by what one eats.

5. What types of books do you usually like to read?What are you currently reading now?

I’m currently loving Virginie Despentes’ trilogy Vernon Subutex. Epic and sprawling and contemporary in the best way. I adored Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels. I wish everyone would read Doris Lessing’s essays. Jennifer Block’s  recent journalistic masterpiece Everything Below The Waist is “necessary”. Rebecca Schiff’s stories are hilarious and intelligent. I guess these types of books fall under the category of no-bullshit. I guess I enjoy an absence of bullshit.

6. What inspires you to write?

Power dynamics. Birds. Weather. Relationships. Time. History. Ancestry. Music. Food. Yoga. Desire. What I find when I look into other peoples’ eyes.

The Book of Dahlia is available on Amazon

After Birth is available on Amazon

Where The Crawdads Sing Book Review

By Robert Drinkwater

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was a poignant coming of age novel that centers around Kya, a young girl who lives in the swamps of North Carolina. This story follows her as she grows up in the swamps, isolated from the community and known as the Swamp Girl. At the beginning, we know that a young man, Chase Andrews has been killed, and a lot of the townsfolk think that Kya had something to do with it. As the story progresses we see Kya grow up and learn more about the world around her.

Going into this book, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. I knew that it was popular. This is a coming of age story because, the main character Kya grows up and changes. One of the most striking features of this novel is the fact that the description of the nature is so vivid. It feels like we’re in the swamp with her as she is observing the wildlife around her. This book was written by someone who was a biologist and it really shows as we see the deep descriptions of the animals and wildlife in this novel. It is beautiful and at times I felt like I was in that swamp catching fireflies at dusk.

The poignancy comes into play when we see Kya grow up as one by one each of her family members leaves. She does have a few friends, such as Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, and Tate whom was a friend of her older brother and she forms a close bond with him as the story progresses. The majority of the story is told in two different timelines; the one where we see Kya grow up and the the one in which the sheriff is investigating the death of Chase Andrews. Many of the town residents believe that it was Kya who killed Chase. This story is set in a small town in North Carolina, and Owens does a fantastic job at portraying that. I saw that with both the dialogue and colorful description of the town. Everyone knows one another. Everyone seems to have some sort of reputation, and everyone thinks that Kya “The Swamp Girl” had something to do with Chases death.

Owens does a fantastic job at portraying a story of isolation and discrimination as we see Kya grow up as an outsider in this community. I empathized with this character who closed herself off from the rest of the world due to the treatment that she receives. We see Kya grow into her own as she experiences love, loss, and pain. She overcomes obstacles that make her more resilient as a result. Kya just wants to love in her swamp and study the nature that she lives in, but she gets thrown in situations causing more hardships along the way.

Overall, this is a character driven novel that follows a girl who is an outcast in her community, who finds solace in the environment that she lives in, as she grows up and becomes tangled up in the murder of Chase Andrews. We see through her eyes, her experiences and why she thinks the way she does, living a reclusive life and trusting only a handful of people. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens portrays a poignant tale of love, loss, abuse, isolation, friendship, and overcoming challenging obstacles.

You can buy Where The Crawdads Sing on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Crawdads-Sing-Delia-Owens/dp/0735219095

Poet Cheryl Savageau comes to UMF

By Robert Drinkwater

On October 16th, Cheryl Savageau who is of Abenaki descent came to UMF and read us a few of her poems from her books. The event was kicked off by UMF’s new president Edward Serna, who recognized Indigenous People’s Day. Afterwards Cheryl Savageau came on stage and began her reading. Her poems not only her heritage, but also her upbringing, and a lot of it was about nature and her family.

One thing that I noticed from her poems was that she wasn’t afraid talk about her heritage, growing up of Abenaki descent. One of her poems was a detailed account about how one her her college professors told her to stop writing about natives because it made people feel guilty. Another poem, “Looking for Indians” was a poem about her childhood, learning about her Abenaki heritage from her father.

Another thing that I noticed about this poem, was that Savageau did a phenomenal job at providing us a detailed description of these mundane activities that she did with her parents as a child, such as fishing, and gardening, things that can make anyone reminisce about our childhood and think about the fun activities that we did as children with our parents that created some of our best childhood memories. I also enjoyed how towards the end of the poem we get a detailed account of her father telling her about the Abenaki tribes and how they “roamed the thick new england forest/ they hunted deer in winter/ sometimes moose, but mostly/ they were farmers and fishermen”. I felt like this excerpt gave me a clear picture on the Abenaki people.

I also enjoyed the poems about when she was in high school. She told us that she was in a band. This poem was about her experience as a high schooler playing in a pub as someone who is underaged. Another poem she read was a list of reasons why her family members drink. This was originally written when she was a child because she was curious as to why her family members drank alcohol. It was a comical and overall enjoyable poem as she listed her family members reasons, some of which included: being married to someone, being in college, and just wanting to see the bottom of the can. She also mentioned how the Abenaki believe that they come from trees, which I thought was fascinating learning about this culture.

Cheryl Savageau has three books of poetry, Dirt Road Home, Home Country and Mother/Land, and in 2020 she will be coming out with a memoir.

You can buy Mother/Land on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Land-Earthworks-Cheryl-Savageau/dp/1844712699/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2DQ0YYMZGQG09&keywords=cheryl+savageau&qid=1571673072&sprefix=cheryl+sa%2Caps%2C159&sr=8-1

Dirt Road Home: https://www.amazon.com/Dirt-Road-Home-Cheryl-Savageau/dp/1880684306/ref=pd_sbs_14_1/144-2792618-1449133?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1880684306&pd_rd_r=548f7c1f-0f21-4bac-84a6-ab8971d9fae8&pd_rd_w=b646I&pd_rd_wg=I2KoW&pf_rd_p=52b7592c-2dc9-4ac6-84d4-4bda6360045e&pf_rd_r=TQV7YH85QFZC2EEMZEM6&psc=1&refRID=TQV7YH85QFZC2EEMZEM6

Sigma Tau Delta Writers Workshop

By Robert Drinkwater

On Saturday, October 5th through October 6th, I had the pleasure of going to the Writers Workshop with Sigma Tau Delta at Camp Kirkold in Readfield, Maine. We left UMF at around 3:00pm on Saturday. When we arrived we got to pick out cabins and help collect firewood. after we collected the firewood, we made our way down to the lake, where there were two benches. A bunch of us, including myself took pictures of the lake, really capturing the beauty of Maine. We sat down on the ground or on one of the benches and did our first writing exercise. For this writing exercise, we had to write about an object near us and describe it in immense detail. Describe how it looks, the texture, what’s around it. Pretend as though this object was the most important thing in our life. We had about fifteen minutes to write about this. When we were done, we continued to walk down the trail where we saw a chimney with nothing else around it. It looked like something out of a horror movie. It really set the mood for spooky season.

Eventually we made it to our next stop for our second writing exercise. For this exercise we had to remain completely silent and write about every sound we hear. After that we made our way to our third and final stop to where there were a few picnic tables and for this exercise we had to write a poem backwards, that had to be twenty lines and we had to use words from a list that was provided. This resulted in an interesting poem to say the least that involved talking coyotes and nosy cicadas.

By the time that we were finished with our writing exercise, Tegan met us at the picnic tables and said that our dinner would be ready soon. We made our way over back to the campsite and gathered around the campfire as the sun began to set. We cooked rice and beans. Having it after a long day of hiking made the food all the more delicious.

After we all finished our meals we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores . Afterwards we huddled around the fire to keep ourselves warm in this Autumn weather. The next morning we all woke up fairly early. Three of members of our group had to leave because they were not feeling too good, but our remaining group went down to the dining hall where Tegan made us pancakes. Afterwards we did our next writing exercise, which was a scavenger hunt. For this we we given a clue to a hidden writing prompt that would be somewhere around the area. Each prompt had something to do with character creation. For instance, for our first prompt we had to list the physical attributes of our character. For another prompt we had to write a monologue that gave a bit of a backstory to our character. By the end of this exercise, we knew our characters backstory, motivations, fears, flaws, and weaknesses. This is the type of exercise that I would recommend to anyone who really wants to get to know their characters. With each writing exercise, all of our characters became more developed and human. I found myself getting invested in these characters and their stories. We concluded our camping trip after the eighth and final prompt, which was to write about an event that would change our characters nature. These prompts were thought provoking and made me more conscious of the importance of knowing your characters when you are creating a story. This writing retreat was an excellent way to practice writing and experience the great outdoors of Maine.