Creative Non-Fiction Workshop:

Photo by Rita Ox on Unsplash

Creative Non-Fiction:  

Writing from the Senses: 

Written with poetry and fire, Walden remains one of literature’s greatest road maps to the divine [to be found in nature]. –  from the book’s jacket cover 

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Britt Wray’s Generation Dread 

[for ages 15 + years old] 

If anyone younger than this would like to take this workshop, please email

Our world is on fire this summer – and it is like an excruciating cry from the wilderness – a warning from our rapidly changing world of our rapidly changing climate. Wray’s book Generation Dread is a timely examination of anxiety for our future, especially anxiety among youth, as generalized climate anxiety has become a phenomenon spreading swiftly across all age groups. This prescient book, published in 2022, analyzes the emotional and psychological impacts of climate change. Wray is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the London School of Hygienc & Tropical Medicine where she has been investigating and researching the human consequences of ecological disruption. A Canadian citizen born and raised in Toronto, she holds a PhD from the University of Copenhagen. Reading this book with a group is likely to produce some exceptional writing – perhaps even publishable non-fiction pieces. Both works are easily accessible – easily understood – and fascinating reads. 


Walden, by contrast to GD, harkens back to a time when nature in North America was still more than abundant – the American writer and spiritual sojourner Thoreau built his cabin on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property in 1845, almost 180 years ago. His quest was to retreat to experience nature alone in order to discover and reflect upon the beauty of the natural world. Walden, now a famous literary tome, was not published until 1854, nine years afterwards. Eight years later, in 1862, in relative obscurity, Thoreau died of tuberculosis while the American civil war raged. Walden, however, did not remain obscure for long, becoming known and admired by writers and readers across the globe. Thoreau’s quest for the greater inchoate meanings of life was carried through brilliantly in Walden. 


Reading Thoreau’s Walden in conjunction with Generation Dread will create stark contrasts that are likely to prove revealing and inspiring to this workshop group. Writings produced by participants will be discussed by the group within the workshop, and a workshop etiquette will be delineated – all writing workshops generally utilize this same professional etiquette. Each focused piece of writing [one] produced by the participants will be given a private, thorough written critique/feedback by writer Kate Orland Bere – but each writing will also be discussed by the group – that is, if the writer wants their non-fiction piece, or personal essay, to be discussed. Honest, thoughtful feedback is offered, and the writer is free to apply suggestions, or to accept praise or commentary, or not. As a writer, it is always you who in the end decides what your story will be. Critiques are always somewhat subjective, although the goal is to be as objective as possible.  


The ultimate goal of this writing workshop is to produce one thoughtful piece of writing that answers to the issues raised in discussions regarding these two works – or at the least create reflective journal responses. Participants will read each week from each text and create journal responses, coming to the workshop prepared to discuss and to share. This workshop will undoubtedly enhance not only your writing skills, but your understanding of the effects of climate change on human behavior, and how powerful nature is in nurturing our psyches – as well as our writing. This is a workshop that could alter the direction of your thinking – and your ambitions. 


Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. — Thoreau

    • NOTE: It will be necessary to buy the book Generation Dread or to attain it to read from a library or elsewhere – or share the book between two participants. Walden, however, is readily available – it is in Public Domain. 
    • You can read in the Author sections of this website work written/published by Kate Orland Bere

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 License.