Dear Labbers and Friends of The Lab,
It's been seven years since the first cycle of The Lab :: Writing Classes with Matthew Clark Davison. We've formed a dedicated community of people who love words. The people who sign up for The Lab are folks who like to make discoveries. Men and women of all backgrounds and levels of experience in writing; all interested in unearthing their deepest and richest and most surprising material.
Unlike other writing workshops, each week we write--subjecting our characters to processes inspired by innovative thinkers and doers.
In the seven years, we've attempted nearly 100 original sets of multi-tiered writing prompts. This Spring, I'll chose six that produced the most compelling results for our Spring 2014 Greatest Hits Cycle which starts 4/8/14. To give you a more specific idea of what we do:
In the most recent 6-week cycle, an overarching theme of DISRUPTION emerged. We defined disruption as: "a breaking asunder," "break apart, split, shatter, break to pieces." We experimented with the power of extreme external forces on the characters in our stories and memoirs.
Bob Hicok wrote about “Getting By,” and challenged us to question what our characters love and hate and love to hate: “Within a year, she loved me again/for loving her negations. In the same way,/I love the rain for killing itself/before it reaches the glass, I love the grass/ for turning brown, I love brown/ for being the color of my thirst/ for its willingness to kill me.”
With her labor-intensive, large-scale cedar sculptures, Ursula von Rydingsvard inspired us to consider ecology, which deals with "the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings." She helped us see how writing into various kinds of landscapes (physical, psychological, and emotional), when placed in relationship, can transmit meaning and emotion to the reader.
In week three, bioethicist Margaret Pabst Battin calmly described a real-life catastrophe: "an ‘overturning’ or ‘sudden turn,’" and we experimented with the idea of plot by looking for situations that might compel our characters to act in ways that contradict their own core beliefs.
Writer/Musician/Artist/Goddess Patti Smith helped us see how allies offer up a different sort of disruption. Even if joy and camaraderie are part of the equation, secondary characters can act as an extreme external force. We considered how relationships offer turning points. We also asked how a reader might sink deeper into the important themes of a story by observing how bonds are made then shift, break and repair.
Week five has us violating point of view. We read Suzanne Rivecca’s story “Philanthropy:” “There was sympathy in the look she gave Cora, but it was neutered, the retroactive ghost of sympathy you have for your own past, stupid self.” By experimenting with purposely shifting point of view and playing with narrative distance, we zoomed in and out, were purposely subjective, and attempted to deepen the themes we care about the most.
In the final week we considered an anti-literary view of revision as described in 1955 by prolific Belgian detective novelist Georges Simenon.
I hope you'll join us for the springtime cycle.
Class Size: 10-15 people.
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