An update from our ninth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett
A summary of the workshop held on Saturday June 12, plus some of the output published below
We began this week's workshop with an excerpt from the first two paragraphs of Colm Tóibín's novel, The Master, in order to highlight how dreams are an essential function in writing used to tell us, or, rather, to foreshadow elements of character and or plot. We went on to distinguish the logic of dreams from the logic of reality, noting, in particular, how within art and literature dreams can be used to introduce a sense of unreality, reveal a character's fantasies or inner desires, show how characters are haunted by past events, foreshadow future events, create a mood, create symbols, represent a theme, or show how real life is influenced by dreams. We then looked at a few representations of dreams/visions in art (Moses at the burning bush, Moses looking at the top of Mount Sinai, Ezekiel's vision of a strange winged being in the heavens, and Ezekiel's vision of bones reconstructing themselves in the desert) in order to demonstrate the full spectrum of feelings dreams can convey. Next, we close read two paintings according to their representation of dream logic—Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy and Fuseli's The Nightmare—noting how the former portrayed a more neutral, poetic vision, while the latter portrayed the potential for darkness and horror in dreams. Finally, after our discussion of these paintings, we moved into the realm of literature with a reading of two Mark Strand poems—"Clear in the September Light" and "Eating Poetry"—and James Tate's poem "The Cowboy."
To watch a video of the instruction in full, click here.
The Participants: Madeline, Svitra, Aditi, Liam, Harine, Sena, Sasha, Emi, Isolde, Audrey, Simran, Helen, Zhilin, Josh, Julia, Lucy
The Challenge: Write the opening to a longer story that begins with a character dreaming.
Isolde Knowles, 9
The Worst Rehearsal
Sena Pollock, 14
In Another Dream
Svitra Rajkumar, 13
Rose was running. Although she didn’t know what she was running from and where she was going, she just couldn’t stop running. Her heart pounded like it was going to burst out of her chest. She bent down gasping for breath and trying to make sense of her surroundings. Her brain was working slower than usual and her head felt dizzy from all the continuous running. She stared up at the bright blue sky. It was an unreal blue, like the color of the ocean except burnt. The ground beneath her began to crack and split apart, and soon she was falling.
Rose felt as if she had been falling for hours but the scream couldn’t make it out of her mouth. It was stuck halfway up her throat. If you thought about it, falling was actually very peaceful before you reached the ground.
Where was here? Add that to the extremely long list of things she didn’t know yet. Rose peered at the vivid orange clouds in front of her. The sun was starting to set and she still hadn’t seen any sign of a surface. She was tired of falling, looking at the same scenery. Though it was exotically beautiful it had also become quite boring.
She missed the company of her friends and family. Rose wanted to leave this alternate world that she was stuck in. She closed her eyes and the brilliant hued clouds faded from her vision.
It was dark. Rose couldn’t see anything. At one point she wondered if her eyes were even open. Was this a dream?