Sitting in the Woods.

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We are happy to share a project by Will Hudson in Illinois (300 or so miles North from original 2005-6 Pencil Revolution HQ in Carbondale). Mr. Hudson sent us a few paragraphs that speak for themselves.

“Sitting in the Woods and Why I Love the Revolution”

The fine folks here at Pencil Revolution have been so kind as to ask me to say a few words about my time sitting in the woods, and pencils.

Sittinginthewoods is an idea I came up with in June 2012 and began in earnest on a trip to Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park around mid-July.  The goal of the project is simple: commit myself to getting back in touch with nature by taking time to go out, sit in the woods, and write about it.  I decided to put together a blog, take some pictures too, and try to be consistent.   At the end of the year, meaning, by the time we circle around again to next July, my hope is that I’ll have something to show for it.  What I would love is to get enough material, and enough support, to be able to raise the funds to print up a batch of “Companion Guides to Sitting in the Woods” through Scout Books.  And then I’d like to give them away.

But what of the pencils?  Honestly, at the outset of the project, I wasn’t thinking about pencils at all.  I had my PaperMate Profile, my moleskine, and I was good to go.  Or so I thought.  This changed almost immediately when, sitting in that old-growth forest with Sugar Maple and Northern Hemlock all around, I realized that this plastic pen with rubber grip was wrong – it felt wrong, it looked wrong, and I knew it just wasn’t going to cut it.
Bottom line, I decided, is that you just can’t spend your time sitting around in the woods, reading Aldo Leopold, and expect to compose a communicable and personal version of a Land Ethic with a bunch of disposable plastic pens.

And so I went in search of pencils.  No plastic, not mechanical, but wooden, finely made pencils.  Thus, I stumbled across the Revolution.  I was amazed to discover this community of pencil lovers. I pored over the blogs, read all the reviews, tried to learn the vernacular, and finally settled on a box of Palomino BlackWing 602s.  My writing life has not been the same since.
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These days, I’ve taken to doing most, if not all, of my writing by hand, in pencil, and I’m enamored by the idea of a handwritten hardcopy of everything that eventually makes it up on the blog.  I’m not a purist, by any means, which is fine because that’s not the point.  The point is in taking the time to do this thing.   SITW is about carving out a niche in my life where I consciously take the time to sit still and listen, to reflect, to write, and to share.  It only seems sensible that pencils would be implicated in all of this.

In a way, the pencil and the paper have become as much a part of this project as the woods and fields themselves.  They require time and are markers of time, either through breezes and seasons, or the wearing down of a point.  Attached to a post in the basement of our old bungalow here outside of Chicago is an ancient Boston KS sharpener.  It’s likely been there for 30 years or more; it was here when we arrived, and it has become significant in a way that I would have never imagined.  It’s a great devourer of pencils, but an unexpected treasure nonetheless.  Similarly, I have discovered that there is always something unexpected that happens when you take the time to sit.  You become more aware of the rhythm of the light, the movement of the leaves, and all the living, breathing things that surround you. Every time I’ve gone out, and life does tend to get in the way of this from time to time, but every time I’ve gone out I’ve discovered something new.
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When it comes down to it, and I think that many Comrades would agree, be it with pencils and journals, or sitting around in the woods, it’s all about attempting to create and sustain a space in your day to day that meaning may adhere to, a space apart from this frenetic and incoherent present of which we’re so accustomed.  We all know that out here in the web there are endless paths to wander and spaces to linger; however, there are no places to sit.   What I hope to accomplish for myself, and what I hope to encourage in others, boils down to finding, or creating, your own space, making your own meanings, and engaging more deeply with the world around you.

That being said, seek out quality pencils, embrace your Comrades, and viva la révolution!

(Text, images W.H. Used with kind permission.)

10 Responses to “Sitting in the Woods.”

  1. Mongo says:

    I wish you well on your journey…the journey is far more important than the destination.

  2. Will says:

    Thank you very much.

  3. Mary says:

    Love this. It instantly made me want to sharpen pencils, sit still, and write. I haven’t been very good with the last two. Thanks for sharing, and for prodding me with a pencil point!

    • will says:

      Hi Mary – the sharpening is definitely the easy part! I’ve obviously obliged myself to sitting still and writing more as part of this project, and my hope is that this will carry me forward many years into the future…BUT, it sure isn’t easy to stay focused, dedicated, and to not get swept up in all the everything else there is to get swept up in these days.

  4. Tamerlane says:

    A man at home in the woods is a man at home with himself. Congratulations Will on finding your sanctuary. My all time favorite photo of an author in his spiritual element is the portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien nestled against an ancient and fantastically gnarled tree on the back cover of Humphrey Carpenter’s biography. I first saw this image in the Seventies, and it has stuck with me ever since.

    • will says:

      I know this picture, and thank you. It’s a funny thing – reconnecting. And I think sometimes it’s not so much what’s been lost, but what’s been forgotten. And then it’s a process of remembering. But then, that’s all personal and stuff…the trick is finding some way to help others in the process of discovering.

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