I have invited a number of people who I believe to be 'Nature's Messengers' to contribute to this blog. 'Nature's Messengers' are people who have connected with and explored Nature, flourished (creatively, emotionally, physically or spiritually) and are dispersing their Nature-related passion to help others connect with the natural world. The cycle continues.
My reason for celebrating these people? Well, I feel I'm also one of 'Nature's Messengers', and to make a difference there is power in numbers. Nature has helped me heal while I wait for my missing brother, Christian Velten, to reappear, so I thought I would repay my debt of gratitude by passing on the message (via this blog) to others so they may also benefit. Nature has provided me with solace, escape, support, inspiration and social interaction.
The other reason for cheerleading Nature is that people have disconnected from the natural world over time and it's not only people who are suffering. Nature is suffering, too. And, as I see it, only by getting people re-connected to Nature on a personal and emotional level, will they care enough to prevent Nature's downhill slide. We need Nature, just as much as she needs us.
If you feel you might be one of 'Nature's Messengers', please get in touch.
To kick off the occasional series, I invite you to meet Mark Stewart - writer of incredible short stories...
MARK STEWART, 55
Website: The Screaming Planet: Short Stories, Poems & Essays
(includes free short stories and a link to my published anthology)
Born in Wimbledon, London, and still live close by.
short story writer, nature defender, animal advocate.
How did you CONNECT with Nature?
Initially through giving a home to two mistreated rabbits, which encouraged me to observe these animals in the wild. We have turned our garden into an area where many animals can experience a safe environment to feed and make a home.
How did you EXPLORE Nature?
Out into the Surrey hills, but anywhere away from towns and cities and people and the noise they make!
How did you FLOURISH in Nature?
Nature provides me with a sense of peace I don’t find in urban environments.
How do (and will) you DISPERSE your positive experiences of NATURE?
Through my short stories, which highlight the pressure that Nature is under and the way many animals struggle to survive in the natural world (see more below).
Have you been responsible for CONNECTING someone in particular (or a group of people) to Nature and what have they gone on to do, or plan to do?
Mainly my two now grown up children, who have always enjoyed trips into the “green.”
Speaking Up for the Voiceless –
Why I Write Short Stories
“I've enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.” Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)
Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.
There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.
I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.
My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.
I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.
Nurtured by Nature: Connect / Explore / Flourish / Disperse.