Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
If you’re looking for my current blog, please visit First Church of Metaphor.
Dream Interpretation for Writers
Using Dream Interpretation to Enrich Your Fiction and Improve the Critique Experience
Offered by Laura K. Deal, Ph.D.
Certified Dream Work Facilitator and 20-Year Veteran of Critique Groups
Curious about your dreams? Curious about how to make dreams in your fiction richer with symbolism? Dreams and fiction share the language of metaphor, so understanding dreams is an excellent skill for writers to develop. Come learn about dream reading, a simple technique for exploring dreams in groups, and an important tool in any writer’s toolbox for giving and receiving critique, creating richer characters, and playing with imagery. We’ll combine writing prompts with dream reading, offering everyone opportunities for insights into dream imagery and self-awareness.
1p.m.-5p.m., Saturday, May 12, 2012 Caritas Spiritist Center
5723 Arapahoe Avenue, Ste. 1A, Boulder, CO 80303
$45 ($40 for Caritas Members)
To register, or for further information, contact Laura — email@example.com
Workshop is limited to 25 participants
Laura K. Deal is a practicing Metaphorian who is compassionately curious about what makes us all tick. She’s a Certified Dream Work Facilitator and belongs to three critique groups, as well as Pikes Peak Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, BroadUniverse, and the International Association for the Study of Dreams. Her fiction has appeared in Wolfsongs Vols. 1 and 2, Space Sirens, and Cricket Magazine, and her poetry in Mise en Poem and Asinine Poetry. You can find her at www.LauraDeal.com and www.FirstChurchofMetaphor.org.
I recently launched a new website/blog, the First Church of Metaphor, which brings together my interests in writing, dream work, visual arts, music, and inspirational quotes and videos. Sometimes, an idea takes hold which can’t be denied. When that’s an idea for a story or novel, I have to write it. In the case of my new website, the idea grew over several months, becoming clearer and clearer until I really had no choice but to give it a try. I hope you’ll stop by and see what you think. Happy New Year!
Yesterday I talked about how much fun it is to have a community of people all playing the same wildly creative game. Because it’s wildly creative, we learn to laugh in the face of our common experiences. Grappling with the muse can be like wrestling a slippery octopus, and humor is a reasonable response to the absurdities that arise. I have a friend who says, “Only the truth is funny.” We find something funny when we recognize our own experience in it, and so having the insider’s view makes this even funnier:
Whiney Writer is also blogging about her experience with NaNoWriMo over at The Wild Writers. Today she’s talking about getting ready. Be sure to check back with her on November 28 to see how she’s doing.
Meanwhile, go write that novel!
I’ve been writing every day for twelve years, and I quickly learned that to balance the time I spent alone at my computer, listening for the story inside me, I needed community. I’d always had a supporter in my sister, Karen Robinson, who awoke in the pre-teen me the possibility, the glorious potential, of writing my own stories. She led by example, being older and very clever, and my earliest efforts had plots and characters very much like hers. I found community as an adult in my critique groups, and at conferences, discovering some of my truest friends among writers. I found it in groups of dream workers, where I found my spiritual home, and where I could play in the stories offered by not only my unconscious, but by others’ as well.
All of that was more than enough for a long time. Then in 2008, I decided to try NaNoWriMo, mostly to shake up a writing routine that had gone stale. To my delight, I discovered a whole community of fun, intense, and creative people. I asked questions on the forums of the kind that a Google search wouldn’t answer. I received thoughtful and generous answers. I went to local write-ins at cafes, and met some of those fun, intense, and creative people in person. I found camaraderie on list-serves for other writing groups, as people asked, “Who else is doing NaNoWriMo?” As for the buzz on the internet, I read it with an insider’s point of view, finally understanding what it meant to be joining the fun and taking on the challenge.
I hope you’ll be part of the NaNoWriMo party this year!
By doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve discovered that I can write that much, that intensely, for a month at a time. I can listen that closely to a story, and get it down on paper in a blaze of concentration and intensity. I can make a commitment to myself and keep it. This is the basis of my writing life–a commitment I made to myself in September of 1999 that I would give a part of each day to writing stories. It was hard, in those early days, to grab time away from my job as a mom with little kids at home, but it was crucial for my emotional well-being. I needed the intellectual escape into creating a world of my own, writing a story that I would like to read. I needed to make a commitment to myself, that I would honor the work I’d been called to do. I promised myself I’d write a page a day. A page of story, or if I were between books, memoir exercises I found in Writing From Life by Susan Wittig Albert. Every day, every week, every month, every year. As anything one does daily for months, it became a habit. As anything one does with the conscious intention of honoring spirit, it became a practice.
Fast forward nine years. I had over a dozen manuscripts filling my trunk–the result of enjoying writing first drafts more than revision–and I’d been circulating revised and polished manuscripts for a while. I was frustrated with not “breaking in” to the publishing world with my novels. I needed something fun. I had an idea for the next book in my queue. I debated about trying NaNoWriMo. Then I had a dream, of an ancient ancestor, and I saw that my dreams wanted me to write the ghost story “Birdie’s Journal.” What November of 2008 proved to me was that I could spend longer hours in the chair and feel even better about myself at the end of the day.
I couldn’t do it every month, because I can’t edit other work while I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I admire writers who aren’t pulled away by their obligations as parents and householders and are able to write a few thousand words every day. Maybe one day, when my nest is empty, I’ll find that I’m one of those writers. Since I’m not there yet, I’ll plunge into NaNoWriMo.
Some people think we shouldn’t write a novel in a month. Some people think Wrimos aren’t “real” writers. There will always be naysayers, but my husband taught me the following mantra, which I happily pass along to you: Renounce unsuitable people. Why listen to people who tell you not to play with your own creativity? They’re only saying it because they’re telling themselves not to play with their own creativity. Why not jump in and play a game with a hundred thousand or so like-minded people? It’s a game in which you stand to claim great rewards for your effort. And if you don’t “win”? You’ve learned something about yourself, and clarified your priorities, and maybe set the story aside to think about some more. Not everyone is called to write novels. But we are all called to explore our creativity. The more we can speak the language of metaphor with one another, the more we’ll understand about ourselves and the better the world will be. I know my world’s better when I play than when I don’t.
And if you don’t think you’ve got creativity? I encourage you to get in the habit of listening to your dreams. Your day dreams, your night dreams. Write them down. And if you don’t remember, make a note of how you feel, or if there’s a song in your head. Listen for your imagination. Noodle around on a piano, or make a collage. Even if you don’t do NaNoWriMo, you’re hereby invited to play in your creativity every day, because living creatively is the best kind of living there is.
I go into NaNoWriMo without an outline. I have an idea for a story, the main character and essentially what happens. The barest of bones. I may have some notes, which is the closest I get to an outline. I jot down brainstorms, some of which won’t prove useful. I consider the opening scene. Because I write by the seat of my pants, I really only need that lead into the story, that one scene that gets me into the world. Then I write it as it comes to me, and the more I write the more glimpses I get into the overall structure, the plot points, the additional characters. I make notes as ideas arise, and keep writing the story. So NaNoWriMo is perfectly suited to me. I don’t usually write so much a day. I probably have a daily average of about a quarter of the NaNoWriMo word count the other eleven months of the year. The slower pace allows me time and head room to revise other manuscripts while still making progress on a first draft, and allows for more balance overall in my life. But for one month out of the year, it’s a rush to open the spigot wider and let a story flow through in a torrent.
At the end of the month, I have a first draft of a novel (or at least the first half, if it’s a big fat fantasy), the raw material of my craft. That’s a kind of wizardry, making something from the voices in my head.
I was still fairly new to Twitter when Chris Baty answered one of my tweets. I was a little star struck. I imagined his busy life, prepping for the thirteenth NaNoWriMo, the last before he steps down as executive director. When an email of mine to the good people who run NaNoWriMo went astray, he helped me follow up. He writes great pep talks. But most importantly, he’s doing good in the world, creating a website with his team to bring everyone together so we can all talk in the forums, and find our local events to meet other Wrimos in person. He unabashedly encourages people to plunge headlong into a creative effort. And he’s brought NaNoWriMo to the schools (through the Young Writers Program) as a way to generate writing enthusiasm and bring fun to the classroom. When kids write they understand their world better. They learn to follow their own creativity, which they’ll need to fix the world our gluttony has left them.
When I’ve taught writing to kids, my focus has always been on fun. I would offer an exercise with some direction in mind, but I always assured the kids that they were entirely welcome to go off in their own directions. One of my students declared that the “Rules were set in Play-doh.” Clearly I have an affinity for Chris Baty’s mission, especially because it’s rooted in humor, respect, and the invitation to participants to explore their own creativity and to tell their own story.
Telling the story inside of me is good practice for creating the story of my life. Thanks Chris, the team at the Office of Letters and Light, and all the volunteers who make NaNoWriMo as wonderful as it is.