Level 2-3: Narrative Nature and Travel Writing

Kathryn teaches with a deep care about the individual student and is very clever about bringing out their voices and passions. She also has an unparalleled knowledge of nature and landscape writing that gives a real gravitas and authority on the subject, a knowledge that she wears lightly without intimidating students, which is a huge strength.” — James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life and English Pastoral 

ABOUT

  • A live online writing course
  • Limited space – 16 students only
  • A Level 2-3 course for intermediate writers (and adventurous beginners)

TIMINGS

  • Every Monday
  • 7-9:30 PM BST
  • June 3/10/17/24 and July 8/15/22/29 

TUITION

  • £550 tuition
  • Contact kathryn@kathrynaalto.com if you would like to stagger your tuition payments
  • Would you like to apply as a Level 1 student? Write to kathryn@kathrynaalto.com

DESCRIPTION

Join New York Times best-selling author Kathryn Aalto’s award-winning community of writers in this Narrative Nature and Travel Writing course.

This hybrid course is an exploration of the different ways writers of narrative nonfiction can combine travel writing, nature writing, and memoir writing. Designed for adventurous beginners and intermediate writers who have taken Kathryn Aalto’s Level 1 or Level 2 narrative nonfiction courses, it is also open by application to those with equivalent experience.  This course is designed for writers of narrative nonfiction whose travel and nature writing has a strong first-person and storytelling components. The writing is not limited to physical travel but is a beautiful blend of inner and outer landscapes.

The greatest travel and nature writing explores the islands, capes, and coves of our inner landscapes. Whether nature writers sit on a streambank in Virginia or make a gruelling ascent of Mount Everest, the best are also travel writers whose words have the power to create seismic shifts and continental drifts within us. This is the double helix of travel and nature writing: the artful way movement and stillness are woven with the visible and invisible to create meditations on our place in the world. As acclaimed travel writer Jan Morris puts, “In a profounder sense the best travel writers are not really writing about travel at all. They are recording the effects of places or movements upon their own particular temperaments–recording the experience rather than the event, as they might make literary use of a love affair, an enigma or a tragedy.” — Kathryn Aalto, Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World

 

As we dive deep into the concept of place as a character itself, you will learn how to observe and articulate the unique qualities, histories, and atmospheres that define a location. You will gain insights into the ethical considerations of writing about diverse cultures, understanding the importance of respectful representation, and accurate portrayal. You will also learn how to interweave personal experiences and reflections with factual information, enhancing the emotional resonance of your writing.

This course emphasises research, revision, and publication.  You will learn ways to research the most compelling subjects and, in doing so, also add the essential ‘universal’ element to your essay, be that original commentary on the human condition or unique insights about the zeitgeist. We will write five new and original essays, refine and revise those essays, and develop techniques to help your stories stand out. Revision is emphasised on a holistic level and sentence level. You will have the opportunity to rewrite at the sentence level to remove clichés and to create maximum emotional impact through exquisite figurative language, consider the layout of your paragraphs on the page, and snap your essay together with a distinctive narrative arc. The focus will be identifying sources for publication and working toward submitting to those sources with at least one publication-ready essay. Kathryn has integrated a lecture on how to research possible places of submission and how to write query letters.

Through a blend of insightful lectures, engaging discussions, and hands-on writing exercises, the travel writing and nature writing course develops the skills, insights, and approaches for narrative nature writing, compelling travelogues, and memorable memoir.  Whether you aspire to become a professional travel writer, want to enhance your personal blog, or simply wish to better articulate your experiences, this course offers a dynamic platform for unleashing your creativity and refining your writing skills.

Join Kathryn and a community of fellow writers to uncover the transformative power of words and embark on a literary exploration of the world around us.

READING

   

LISTENING

Listen to Kathryn discuss nature and place writing:

  •  National Public Radio’s “The Write Question” from Montana Public Radio here.
  • “Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden” here.
  • “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio with Ari Shapiro here.
  • “A Savoured Life” podcast on nature writing with Sumayya Usmani here.

SENSE OF COMMUNITY

No matter your subject or style, you will find a great writing community in this creative nonfiction writing course. All of Kathryn’s writing courses are characterised by a warm fellowship and positive accountability, which provides valuable support and focus. Each session you gather with your classmates, you will learn from and teach each other while gaining a new writing community who share your writing aspirations and growth mindset.

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE & PHILOSOPHY

Kathryn Aalto is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction.  For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University and has given guest lectures at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice and thriving online writing courses, and leads in-person retreats, courses, and workshops in the United States and United Kingdom. She is a New York Times best selling author and judge for The Nature Chronicles Prize, an international bi-annual award for nature writing in the English language. Kathryn’s teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth in the literary arts.

 

TESTIMONIALS

Read more testimonials here.

“Kathryn is an inspiring writer and gifted teacher of narrative non-fiction. She creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in the virtual classroom, even as she encourages writers to pursue their craft with rigour and tenacity. The classes pivot from instructor-led teaching to student-centred learning, with a dynamic range of activities, including lectures, discussions of craft/technique in assigned readings, writing prompts, workshops, Q&A sessions with published authors, industry insights and more. Aspiring writers receive detailed and actionable feedback, whether to build on existing skills or experiment with fresh approaches to craft. Beyond the classroom, Katy is happy to answer any questions, suggest further readings and encourage writers to publish.” 

Wendy, Maidenhead, England

“After six months of working with Kathryn–which is a bit like entering the space of a handwritten letter, what with her sharp aesthetic sense, far-ranging intelligence, wit, and curiosity–I’ve made tangible progress on an unwieldy, long-form project I was struggling to articulate. I came to her Memoir and Life Writing class for accountability, and came away having experienced the kind of support, writing insight, and real feeling of friendship that can be difficult to find in a workshop environment. Kathryn fostered a warm, charming atmosphere in class (a real feat online), allowing for life-long connections to develop among our group of writers. She cares about the arc of her student’s writing lives–a form of attention that encourages artistic growth and positive risk-taking. She not only brought her years of writing and publishing experience to class and to our bi-monthly writing assignments (her personal feedback, often handwritten, is invaluable), she also brought her unique perspective. Writer-gardener-historians are, I think, particularly adept at imagining the possibilities for a piece, no matter your subject. Kathryn pushed me to dig deeper, moving my writing in new directions. No matter where one is in their writing life, working with Kathryn will be an experience of profound joy, insight, and artistic deepening.“– Veronica, Portland, Oregon

Veronica, Portland, Maine

“Kathryn possesses a rare talent to hold a learning space in such a way each participant is supported while doing the hard work of being vulnerable. She extends an invitation to share space together in a small circle across time and distance as writers gather from around the world in a digital classroom with warmth and grace.  As a new writer, I felt unsure and intimidated. Was I ready? Did I have anything interesting to say?  Kathryn dispelled my fears, welcomed me and never stopped encouraging me to stretch just a little further. She weaves and layers lectures, writing prompts with workshopping along with insightful feedback (often with sketches!) for every session. Kathryn is attentive to the temperament of each class, pausing a little longer here, waving a brief hello to something over there. I rave about these classes! Not only for how each has helped me to learn the craft of writing but for how she has helped me discover my voice. Quite honestly, growing as a writer has profoundly affected my relationships. Deepening my relationship to self, to loved ones and the world I habit. What a joy!”

Beth Anne, New Jersey