EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Seabrooke Leckie of The Marvelous in Nature

Seabrooke Leckie authors the Ninjamatics' 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards winner The Marvelous in Nature, which placed 1st in Best Written and 2nd in Nature.

Why blogging? Why did you start blogging, and what drives you now?

I've been blogging since 2002, but only started a blog intended for public consumption in 2008. At that time I felt some of my friends/family were getting a bit tired of reading my nature posts, and I wanted to reach out and share what I was discovering with a broader audience. It's definitely been my readers that have kept me going the last four years; there have been periods where I've flagged and it's been knowing there are people looking forward to my posts that have kept me going through the slow spots. But like with anything, there has to be passion for it, too — if you aren't enjoying what you're doing, it's going to feel like work, and your readers will notice.

You live on 130 acres at the edge of the Canadian Shield, which fills this urban dweller with envy. Tell me about what it's like to live in such a large, beautiful landscape.

Living with so much wild space around you gives your mind and soul room to breathe. Both my husband and I are creative types — he's an artist, I'm a writer — and we draw our inspiration and our energy from the landscape. Things speak to you on a more emotional level in natural landscapes like this: the beauty of a sunset, the purity of freshly-fallen snow, the serenity of a forest; they touch you more deeply here than in an urban setting.

I grew up in a rural landscape, and after eight years of mostly suburban living I really wanted to return to my roots. I think most people can appreciate the beauty of a rural setting, but many people wouldn't want to actually live there. There are certainly inconveniences that come with country living, but they're a trade-off I'm happy to make.

What is the relationship between your non-fiction writing and blogging? Do they help or hinder each other?

A little bit of both, I'd say. On the one hand, the blogging can definitely provide inspiration for the other writing I do. Also, all writing, no matter what form it takes, is practice. The more you write, the better you get, and I do feel that in four years of blogging the roughly 500,000 words I've written have helped me improve. But on the flip side, blogging is time-consuming, and time spent blogging is time not spent working on my other projects. So it's a balance, and one that I'm constantly reevaluating as my situations change.

If you are feeling less than inspired, where do you look for inspiration?

I can usually draw a fair bit of inspiration from nature itself — take my camera and go on the hunt for something different, unusual, new to me. But there are days where even an hour-long hike outdoors fails to turn anything inspiring up (this tends to happen more often in the winter). In such situations I often turn to my photo archives. I've got some 25,000 photos taken since I started writing the blog, and many interesting things remain un-posted.

Are you open about being a blogger? How do people offline react to your online writing?

It depends on who I'm talking to. If the other person is also a nature-lover or outdoors enthusiast I'm pretty open about my blog. But outside of that segment of the population I don't talk about it much — less because I'm embarrassed about it as because I expect they probably won't be that interested. Of the people I do tell most everyone is pretty enthusiastic; I suspect this is because, as I say, I tend to avoid mentioning it to people who I don't think will be interested.

Which weblogs are your current favourites? Which weblogs have been most influential in the shaping of your own blogging?

One of the blogs that was most influential in shaping my own, and which continues to be a favourite, is Julie Zickefoose's. She's an artist/writer in Ohio who I've long admired, and I always enjoyed the investigative style of her nature posts. Hers was the blog that gave me the creative inspiration to start one of my own.

I have a lot of blogs in my feed reader, but a few other Canadian nature ones that I really enjoy reading are The Bug Geek, The House and Other Arctic Musings, and Wanderin' Weeta.

What advice do you have for new bloggers?

1) Pick a subject you're passionate about. Blogging is a lot of work, both to think of new ideas constantly, and to create the posts; if you're not passionate about the subject, it will be hard to keep up your pace. Which brings me to

2) Try to post on a schedule. It doesn't need to be a strict schedule (eg. specific days of the week) but does need to have enough regularity that your readers know when to check back for new posts. Infrequently is fine, even, as long as it's predictable. And

3) Be yourself. You have your own strengths — whether your humour, your eye for detail, your easy way of writing, your mad photography skillz, whatever — that will set you apart from all the other blogs out there. People want to read you because it's you. You'll find it easier to blog if you're yourself, too.


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2011 CWA Winner:

Seabrooke Leckie
Perth, Ontario
The Marvelous in Nature
1st in Best Written Weblog
2nd in Nature
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Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.