We asked: Were there any exercises to stimulate the creativity while at the Clarion South workshop? The answers came free-flowing and prompted a lot of LOLZ from this blog maintainer – seriously! Smutty collaborations, stationery, haikus and inspiring movies (ha!), physics (see Lee Battersby’s response tomorrow re: unicorns), the necessity of french toast (Christopher Green, tomorrow). I toyed with calling this post ‘getting stimulated’ in the spirit of the answers below, but had an eleventh hour change of heart. Read on!
NB. Margo Lanagan attended Clarion West, which is one of the US counterparts of Clarion South, and was then a tutor at Clarion South.
Margo Lanagan: At Clarion West we had a high-speed progressive story-writing session with Gwyneth Jones that pretty much undid me with laughter. Gwyneth seemed to realise how far we’d regressed in the 5 weeks before she arrived. She let us have our heads and get silly. Apart from that, who needed stimulation? Talking story for hours a day was quite stimulation enough.
Deborah Kalin: One of Margo’s first acts was to send around prompts — an image, an opening line, I forget the third — and asked us to write the start of a story based on each prompt. I remember being terrified, imagining we’d have to read them aloud or hand them in (clearly, I have assessment anxieties!). When we’d finished, she told us: you have three more weeks of Clarion and now, if you can’t think of anything else, you have three stories you can work on. It was so amazingly simple and sweet I fell in love with her then and there.
Brenn McDibble: Well, I think the most stimulation came from sitting around the table with a bottle of wine after class. The whole chatter was wild and far out science, memes, extrapolations and revolved around writing, books, movies and occasionally stationery. Stationery is important to writers, and you can see what I mean. It was full on immersion in all things speculative 24 hours a day with like-minded individuals… although we’d all been assimilated into a kind of single-minded entity by the end.
Jason Fischer: We played a lot of Mafia, which is basically a bluffing game involving cards and secret identities. Some people got WAY too into that, but it was great fun. Another exercise that came about were some round-robin stories, where you write a sentence and pass them around. I hate to say that I sabotaged several of these masterpieces with my grotty sense of humour, but this was good for unclogging the creative process.
Michael Greenhut: Occasionally, some of us got around a table and did some round robin writing; Each of us contributed one sentence at a time to a Frankenstein story. Some these became interesting, while others became runaway smut.
Sean Williams: I encourage my Clarion students to write a haiku a day. I also buy them pizza and make them watch “Throw Momma from the Train”, since everything you need to know about writing is in that movie. Well, maybe not, but it does stimulate the two most important things to come out of week one: frank discussion and bonding (even if the latter is against my poor taste in movies).
Tune in tomorrow for the second set of answers from the Clarionites.
Check out the earlier posts about Clarion South
Find out more about Clarion South (intake is closed for the next Australian session, which will take place in Brisbane from Jan 4 to Feb 14)