— [http://goo.gl/l2C8cn] It involves writing about personal experience, real people, or events. _______________________Travel writing.

:: RT: Creative Nonfiction: Travel Writing http://goo.gl/l2C8cn The Solace of Open Spaces | #Essay #GretelEhrlich #TravelWriting #LiteraryJournalism #CreativeNonfiction #Wyoming #CowboyLife #USAliterature #Literature #StudyNotes #UniversityStudies #SocialStudies #CulturalStudies #Society

With delicate, yet piercing, words she weaves an inspiring and memorable relationship between the individual and nature.

The Solace of Open Spaces bears some of the characteristics of travel writing; it makes use of background information that builds up to the events in Ehrlich’s texts, “[s]eventy-five years ago, when travel was by buckboard or horseback [...]” (7). She travels to the past and tells Wyoming's history and people's stories because in Wyoming "private histories are largely public knowledge" (9). It is the simple pleasures she experiences that have made the protagonist stay in Wyoming so long after her first visit: "Despite the desolate look, there's a coziness to living in the state. There are so few people [...] that ranchers who buy and sell cattle know one another statewide; [...] despite the physical separation, people stay in touch, often driving two or three hours to another ranch for dinner" (Ehrlich 7).

The Solace of Open Spaces — Creative Nonfiction: Travel writing; Interdisciplinary Course with Cultural Studies, Benjamin Madeira, PDF ::

The Solace of Open Spaces — Creative Nonfiction: Travel writing, PDF - Official Website - BenjaminMadeira

Creative Nonfiction: Travel writing ::

The Solace of Open Spaces (1985) by author Gretel Ehrlich is all about an exploration of what Wyoming brings out in Ehrlich the narrator/protagonist and the reader. What stands out is how Ehrlich the narrator/protagonist expresses her long stay in the west. The Solace of Open Spaces gives a profound description of the vast State of Wyoming and the solace that can be experienced in its open planes. Gretel Ehrlich "has done her best to portray the truth as she knows it and to the best of her ability" (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). Ehrlich's text is ultimately memoir, but it inevitably crosses borders with other forms of creative prose, such as a relationship between the individual and nature, and literary journalism. Furthermore, throughout the story, Ehrlich gives her account of a personal observation and aspects that make Wyoming attractive. Ehrlich shares Wyoming’s solace with the reader; she shares the sheltering look of the vastness (Ehrlich 2; Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). One can argue, thereby, that The Solace of Open Spaces has characteristics of travel writing.

Nonfiction writing ::

Travel writing is a form of nonfiction writing whose sole purpose is to document the events people, sights and feelings of the author. The writer might be visiting new places for the sake of new experiences and pleasure of travel. Many travel books reach out to the readers advising them on the sights to see or even where to find the national cuisine of a foreign land. They focus on presentation of information (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). Travel writing can explore the field of adventure, entertainment, and even diary. Travel writing has continually gained a wide range of audiences who seek to get more information about certain places. In this type of travel writing “the place is the most important focus of the text” (lesson 9). Ehrlich’s writing, however, is not an informational text but a true story about a period in her life; it resembles a novel more than it resembles a guidebook. It is a cultural artefact containing her experiences, “a sense of humanity in general” (Thompson 13-14; Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 10).

The "eye," and the “I” ::

As a memoir, The Solace of Open Spaces transcends the boundaries of Ehrlich’s experience. All the events that Ehrlich sees through the "eye," affects Ehrlich's feelings, emotions and thoughts; it affects her “I” and also the self of her readers (Nguyen and Shreve 2; Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). Throughout The Solace of Open Spaces there is intense observation, description and immersion into Wyoming’s landscape. It is therefore not merely information; it is not fiction. In other words, it is literature of fact. As a memoir, The Solace of Open Spaces is “a window into a life” (Zinsser 136). Ehrlich draws on “experiences emerging from personal experiences” (Nguyen and Shreve 2). The Solace of Open Spaces is about how she interprets Wyoming and that interpretation is determined by her own experience of the State (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). Nguyen and Shreve point out that "[a] prominent form of personal creative nonfiction is the memoir because it mines the material of personal history" (2). The Solace of Open Spaces by author Gretel Ehrlich is a reflection on the people and events that take place in Wyoming which influence the life of Ehrlich. It is explicitly a characteristic of literary work to adequately describe a people’s way of life (Ehrlich 10-11).

Weather is capricious and mean ::

Ehrlich's text begins in medias res, somewhere in the middle of the story. The purpose of this type of beginning is to grab the readers’ attention and compel them to reader further. In The Solace of Open Spaces, Ehrlich employs remarkably descriptive imagery including personification, metaphors and similes, “[t]he morning sky looks like cheese” (24), “Spring weather is capricious and mean” (12), “[c]anyons curve down like galaxies” (3) and "[d]ays unfold, bathed in their own music. Nights become hallucinatory; dreams, prescient" (12).

Winds howl all night and day ::

There is a recurring image of water and wind throughout Ehrlich's text. The protagonist has "just awakened from a nap [...] sheltered from wind" (2) in Wyoming's openness which "is all about wind". (4) The protagonist mediates that in that State "[w]inds howl all night and day" (14) and "[t]ough it was water that initially shaped the state, wind is the meticulous gardener" (13). The protagonist is in love "with this wind-swept state" (13).

The doing of a mad architect ::

This imagery about “wind” links the landscape that “seems to be the doing of a mad architect--tumbled and twisted” with those images and creates a vivid experience between the narrator and the reader. In this open country “good-naturedness is concomitant with severity” (Ehrlich 8).

A few verbs ::

In this context, one finds solace in simple places, similar to the particular language that Wyomingites use, “a few phrases imply a complex of meanings” (Ehrlich 10). The sentences people employ consists of a few verbs as if to shorten conversations. Cowboys would ask, for instance: “Which one needs rode” (10-11).

A sensory experience ::

Ehrlich “[places] greatest weight describing the place and giving the reader a sensory experience” (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). The readers do not only see shepherd, horse, dog, and sheep in the planes but they also see them with all their detail, "[e]agles look like small people" and "[a]ntelope [move] in small, graceful bands [...], their mouths open as if drinking in the space” (Ehrlich 9).

Mixed reflections on the experience ::

Another characteristic of travel writing is its ability to use mixed reflections on the experience. This helps the reader see the importance of the experience and appreciate the writer’s perspective. Ehrlich recalls her memories utilizing a very visual, detailed, descriptive language:

“A few weeks ago, I helped them deliver a calf who was stuck halfway out of his mother's body. By the time he was freed, we could see a heartbeat, but he was straining against a swollen tongue for air. Mary and I held him upside down by his back feet, while Stan, on his hands and knees in the blood, gave the calf mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I have a vague memory of being pneumonia-choked as a child, my mother, giving me her air [...]” (Ehrlich 12-13).

Fruition is also death ::

The story brings out her feelings, and she explicitly admits that she is in a romantic relationship with Wyoming, she is in “romance with this wind-swept state” (Ehrlich 13). Just when the readers are thinking of love, Ehrlich returns them to another reality of life by reflecting that “Autumn teaches us that fruition is also death; that ripeness is a form of decay. The willows, having stood for so long near water, begin to rust. Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons” (27).

The exploration of the open country ::

The Solace of Open Spaces portrays that Ehrlich is not a stranger to every aspect of Wyoming. It “[makes] the reader experience the location vicariously through [Gretel Ehrlich]” (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). Ehrlich interacts with the people knowing their culture and terming them as very friendly (8-9). The fact that she can recognize the change in the use of language by the Wyoming residents makes it clear that she is fully immersed in the society (10). Her interaction with local people and working together with her neighbors form a big part of what she feels about the place (11-12, 22). Ehrlich makes this piece of work a travel writing by describing in detail the exploration of the open country and its planes where “the vistas look like music” (5) as well as the friendliness of its people.

Conclusion ::

Thus, travel writing is a form of creative nonfiction literary work whose nature demands that the writer expresses her personal experiences. It “not necessarily detail a journey” (Robbins-Sponaas, lesson 9). In the writing of this type of literature, it is not about “[bringing] the reader to the destination” but rather about what the destination brings out of both the narrator and the reader (lesson 9). Ehrlich attempts to share Wyoming with the reader, that destination where she “lost herself.” Author Gretel Ehrlich makes the solace of Wyoming real and enjoyable to her readers (lesson 9). Undoubtedly, The Solace of Open Spaces is memoir within nonfiction writing but it also meets the set characteristics of travel writing.


This conversation with author Gretel Ehrlich took place at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference in 2014 ::

Fuente: Youtube, Servicios de Internet | Source: Youtube, Video hosting service


• [1] Ehrlich, Gretel. The Solace of Open Spaces. New York: Penguin Group, 1985.

• [2] Nguyen, B. Minh, and Porter Shreve. Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2005. Print.

• [3] Robbins-Sponaas, Rhonna. "Lesson 9: An introduction to Creative Nonfiction." ENG6012 Course Website, Spring 2015. Take Credit, Trondheim: NTNU. Web. Retrieved on May 2015 from https://goo.gl/5ItFpF

______. "Lesson 10: Ehrlich." ENG6012 Course Website, Spring 2015. Take Credit, Trondheim: NTNU. Web. Retrieved on May 2015 from https://goo.gl/WyTwch

• [4] Thompson, Carl. Travel writing. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print. ISBN: 978-0-415-44464-4

• [5] Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc., 2001 (6th. Ed). Print.

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