Essay by Ann Edall-Robson, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.
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I struggled with the thought of writing something insightful, useful and raw. Several starts and stops took me to the same conclusion. I write from my heart, about things I am passionate about. Often capturing moments others may not have had the chance to experience. Sharing, not only what I view in my everyday life, but also from the western heritage I am so proud to say I am from.
Writing isn’t something I just decided to do one day because it had become a fad. The stacks of journals, pieces of tattered edged papers, loose leaf pages and old school scribblers are a testament of how long my mind, paired with writing tools, have been having a love affair.
Books filled with poetry, fiction and life stories. Dribs and drabs of teenage dreams, and adult realism. All following me in boxes from my rural home, where I was raised, to the place close to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where I now call home.
Raised with the expectation that please, thank you and excuse me, were not only part of every person’s vocabulary, you had best be using those words, yourself. Respect for everything and everyone, unless they proved otherwise, was mandatory.
This was not the beginning of the raw world I cherish. Our western heritage encompasses so much, and is almost nearing a point of the “forget about it” era. Technology infringing on moral standards is pushing the wild, raw, traditional life, to the side. Ranching, farming, neighbouring, and knowing the land cannot and should not be shunned. It is such an important part of going forward. Without remembering, telling the tales, the history, we are nothing.
Fast forward to the 21st Century. We are in a time when no one writes letters by hand and mails them. Families don’t eat meals together, and when they do, they have no idea how to carry on a conversation. AND, our heritage is being paved over for the next shopping mall.
Now, more than ever, is the time we need to be the keeper of the old ways, traditions and stories. The raw life, regardless of the culture, needs a home. In both my writing and photography, I am passionate about recording and sharing the old days and ways. Every chance I get, I include something from a time gone by. A time when our grandparents and parents were children. A time when I was a child.
How easily we choose to forget, or perhaps ignore, the history we were making in our young years. How we fervently wish the door could be opened to find it close at hand. Disappointed and even devastated, when we know it’s lost, gone forever, without a trace and without a recorded word.
I was connected to the land in my young years and didn’t even know it. Yet, when I read pieces I penned almost half a century ago, I recognize the influenced of my lifestyle. The Wire and Post Contraption and Partners, both included in Moon Rising: An Eclectic Collection of Works are from that era. Other short stories written for this book, came from within. From the heart of where and how I grew up.
My writing and photographs are fed by the soul of our western heritage. A honourable culture I remember, the stories I was told, the people I have known and places I have been. The fields of horse belly deep grass speak to me. Inviting the imagination to reminisce about the pioneers homesteading in the cabin, where now, only a few weathered grey logs are left.
The Quiet Spirits, my current project (Release 2017), has traits of western heritage immersed throughout. And yes, there is another book being penned, not yet titled, and modeled after western ranching traditions.
Writing Raw or Raw Fiction is a style I have always embraced. The word Raw, to me, means open, unbridled, passionate, from the heart. I write by the seat of my pants, not missing the chance to record a thought, any thought. I made a recent comment, “The first draft should sting with every thought imaginable.” That is what raw writing is all about. Uninhibited, telling the story as if you were there. Find the whatsit, whatchamacallit, thingummy you are passionate about and use it until you exhaust the soul it came from.
Ann Edall-Robson, writer, photographer, lover of life, and all things that make us smile. She has an unwavering commitment to share the traditions, heritage, and stories of the country life she hails from.
An avid quilter and gardener, Ann grew up participating in rodeos and gymkhanas. She now lives with her husband near the rolling foothills, mountains, and country life that inspire so much of her work; both written and photographic.
Published books include:
Moon Rising: An Eclectic Collection of Works
From Our Home To Yours: Cookies
From Our Home To Yours: Cakes & Squares
Voice and Vision 2016 includes two of Ann’s stories
Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at email@example.com.
Great post, Ann. Thank you for inviting Ann over, Charli. It’s lovely to find out more about her raw writing here. I agree with you so much, Ann. We need an appreciation of and respect for the past. We seem to be hurtling ever faster into the future, trampling everything that isn’t concrete in our wake. I’m intrigued now to read some of your other writing, of which I wasn’t aware. Your final sentence sums it all up rather well: find what “you are passionate about and use it until you exhaust the soul it came from.” Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience.
Ann has a capacity to write what it is she sees and experienced in her heritage, and I think it counters the speed of technology. Raw writing that slows down to consider the past and retain its influences.
I saw a lot of similarity with Ann’s intent to yours – capturing the past to appreciate the present and map a path for the future. All is not lost if we can learn from the past. The world did not begin the moment we were born. (The Twilight Zone might have us believe otherwise. 🙂 ) Have a great weekend.
Norah, we as writers have the ability to share our passions. Deftly slipping bit and pieces into the stories we write. I’m lucky, my passion is part of my heritage, and it is very easy for me to write about. Characters, places, events, come to life on the pages.
They do, Ann. You breathe life into them with your well-chosen words.
Ann, I can relate to this idea of raw as writing from the heart. That’s when my fingers fly to capture the thoughts and feelings. When I read your writing, I connect with that same deep, raw emotion for the west and the impression of land and heritage upon us all.
Sharing what we know, what simmers deep within, takes readers on a journey of learning about heritage and the land we have grown from. Thank you for inviting me to share Raw From the Soul, Charli.
Raw from the soul and the heart; I enjoyed your post greatly Anne. I know this is why I write memoir, because it isn’t all doom and gloom back there. There are stories that need to be told from another life, a different time, from a world very different to the one in which we live today. I love your passion for your western and honourable heritage. And you’re right, things we took for granted growing up – in my English countryside too – like good manners, drummed into us by my mother, and I did the the same with my children – and writing thank you letters and eating meals together, these were/are so important. When I lived in America for almost 20 years, most of those years, we didn’t have internet or email, my mother and I writing reams of airletters to one another across the shining sea. I have many of them still. They tell of a different way of life which wasn’t that long ago! It’s wonderful that you keep your way of life alive through your beautiful writing and photography. The world needs more of it.
Lives and cultures parallel in so many ways. It is interesting to learn the heritage of others. Thank you for sharing a bit of yours.
I hear you on the manners being drummed in and making sure our children were privy to the need of their use. One of my mom’s favourite sayings – Manners are one of the few things in life that are free that will get you a lot more than you think.
It doesn’t take much time or effort to jot the stories down. There will be those in the future that will appreciate our efforts.
Thank you Anne…and what a great saying, your mom was a wise woman!
Yes. Completely agree that first drafts should sting. They don’t always, but, when writing raw, they often do. 💖 I write by the seat of my pants, too. Always have.
I think we’ve developed new traditions but I must say writing letters by hand and families eating together are great examples of things we should be careful about losing.
We all need to make our own traditions without losing the sight and feel for what guides us in life and in writing.
[…] own Canadian frontier where she captures and conveys her region’s pioneer heritage. In “Raw From the Soul” Ann describes how she writes from the heart and why she’s inspired by her western […]