I greatly enjoyed delivering the 1st session of the Dreams & Writing Course yesterday at Hypatia Trust. This course might have a smaller number of participants (one never knows how many will register! the last course was oversubscribed!) but the atmosphere was inspiration packed and the less busy table allows more focused and deeper work.
I have added a new component to the course and so I began by talking of one of the most famous literary works to come out of a dream; that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the premise of which came to her in a dream when she was only 18 and on a trip in Italy where she was staying in Byron’s villa with Percy Bysshe Shelley (not yet her husband). To immerse us in the atmosphere I played a short audio of the Creature’s monologue from the book.
The students then went on to reflect and answer several questions about their own dream life before using one of their dreams to act as the fodder towards building a narrative – completing several exercises to this aim.
After a short break we resumed the session and entered the surrealist vein; doing a number of exercises within this genre.
The students were all then given, amongst other homeworks, some reading material on the Aboriginal Dreamtime in order that they begin preparing to write their own Dreaming for a certain landmark/location.
Next week, along with other exercises, we’ll be working with their own dreams further and addressing themes, plot, symbols and characters as well as looking at Jung’s work on dreams.
*The full advert and information on this course can be found in the adverts here: http://www.freewriterscentre.org/freewriterscentre/live-events/
In the 2nd Session the focus was on Dream Characters. We first listened to the narrative outcomes of the requested dream(s) and then taking six dream symbols from the dream the students had to weave the symbols together into a narrative. The next exercise in this portion of the session was to ask the students to write in the voice of one of the dream characters – remembering to consider the elements of how to write voice when doing a sweep over the piece for an edit post writing.
After a cuppa we then started to look at Jungian dream interpretation – first watching a short video:
before looking at a handout on Jungian methodology for working with dreams and applying those methods back into the work that had occurred thus far.
Their take away assignment was to write their dream forward in a 500 word narrative and I’m greatly looking forward to hearing the outcome of this work in the next session!
To close our 2nd session each participant then gave a 1 minute pitch of their Dreamtime piece and the assignment was set, in home time, to start to fully write their 750 word Dreamtime story for the landscape. I mentioned that when doing this they may wish to draw images to give characters and their story added dimension. This cross over of discipline can enable more innovative work. We are using our dreams as food; so that way of non linear, non sense and variety is all part of our method during the course work.
We began by listening to some splendid pieces that the students had worked on during the week and then began our session proper.
To begin with I played this early 90s tune:
Followed by the question: Have you ever made a decision or followed a course of action based on a dream or a dream’s content? What happened?
I then instructed the class to write a short 10 minute piece in which the character is about to do something because they have had a dream. They then had some minutes to review and edit their pieces before sharing.
After a short break we then started our main work of the day exploring the Jungian principle of Anima/Animus and bringing that into our writing. To start with the class read through this handout: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anima_and_animus and we then discussed it. After that the participants sat comfortably with eyes closed, visualising a short story – introducing them to their own anima/animus, as it was narrated. Immediately after the visualisation ended they wrote a stream of consciousness piece (non stop with no editing) for 10 minutes about what they had seen. I then gave them a short time to refine or expand that piece.
After listening to a few of these pieces the students had an activity to write in the voice of their anima/animus (the character they had met in the visualisation).
Their non mandatory home assignment this week was to let their anima/animus write a 500 word narrative and to see what comes out!