Alternative title for today's blog is 'The Uses of Silliness' and it comes from Trickster energy, that is, the archetypal Trickster element of the Hero's Journey/Writer's Journey. It was the final class (of 4) last week. I save Trickster til the end because... (a) it takes nerve to present it and (b) it is a good laughing antidote to taking ourselves and our writing too seriously.
First part of the session was writing exercises and talk on Ways of Ending; also reprise on structure/dramatic tension -- why a story needs both a crisis and a climax. (See Christopher Vogler's book, The Writer's Journey, on this.) Then the silly part: little pots of Play Doh, and instructions to paired students to quickly-quickly make a little creature and create a little drama:
they meet, they like each other, they fight, they hug and make up, The End. Fast-fast-fast!
Silly? You bet. Everyone starts giggling and laughing, and I do it with them, and there is NO TIME to be self-conscious or serioso... just time to be quick, childlike and fun. As tutor you have to present it so rapidly that students don't have time to object or think about it or ask questons: be confident, steam ahead!
Afterwards I explain the Trickster archetype -- the jester, the comic side-kick, the banana skin, the puffed-up-ego-deflator, the bringer-down-to-earth, the loosener of soil. In a wonderful talk, Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells the story of Demeter mourning and seeking Persephone http://shop.soundstrue.com/shop.soundstrue.com/SelectProd.do?prodId=1871&manufacturer=Sounds%20True&category=Inspiration&name=The%20Creative%20Fire, when in her moment of deepest despair the impudent Balbo comes along... a bit of the comic erotic. All the same stuff -- the force, often unbidden, that makes or lets us laugh at our troubles. And in so doing gain perspective and refreshment.
I describe a similar but somewhat less courage-demanding (for the tutor) exercise in Cr Wr The Matrix, Exercise 86, Feel Free Joy, page 115; using crayons, pencils, felt markers. I've done it with coloured paper, too; a rapido collage. Any of these are ideal not only for fun, but to loosen a class, a group or an individual (yourself???) to break up po-faced, rigid, blocked creativity... to aid
loose and flowing creativity.
And then it was farewell, Heroes (after the usual evaluate/feedback forms the college needs and I use as my own 'report card' for my own future teaching ideas). And then, off to the pub.