Writing and hiking in the Pogonip (updated.)

The Santa Cruz Sentinel ran an article about our recent writing/hiking adventure in the spectacular Pogonip — an open-space area where nature is asserting itself after years of mistreatment. (These days, flourishing redwoods are kicking down the same lime kilns that burned through most of the old-growth timber in the area.) It was great to hear from so many talented people who described themselves as “non-writers” but read breathtaking descriptions of the natural world. It was even more impressive when you think about the fact that they wrote these observations right on the spot while walking through the forest and the meadow. We didn’t see any banana slugs or coyotes –or mountain lions — but we crossed streams, meandered through ferns, climbed a hill, enjoyed ocean views and had a peaceful picnic near the old building where they filmed the climactic vampire battle in “The Lost Boys.”

Also: during the talk, I asked the writers to avoid using the word “magnificent” in their nature descriptions. “Instead, try to choose evocative and descriptive words that will make the reader see that it is magnificent.” And then, after offering up that rule, I proceeded to use the word “magnificent” again and again and again while describing all the things we were seeing. (“Wow. Isn’t that redwood tree magnificent!!! Isn’t that ocean view magnificent??”) It was mortifying.


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