Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Surprised again by the Play Date

For the first time in what feels like months, I made it to the Creative Writing Play Date tonight! I think the cold had probably scared a lot of people into staying home, but frankly, after a couple of days below -30, something more in the -15 range felt practically balmy. Nevertheless, there were only a few of us braving the winter chill at Mother Tongue Books: four, in fact: Sean, the moderator, and three others including me.

I think that over the Christmas holidays, when I was inspired and creatively kicked in the pants by the poetry of my niece Rachael Wyatt (I got to read her portfolio while I was home, and it really made me want to write, which is one of the things good writing should do), and also over the last few months when I've been focusing so much on developing Chasing Boudicca that it felt like stealing energy from the show to work on new things, I just hadn't been doing that much creative writing. I think I walked back into the Play Date ready to surprise myself. Or at least ready to loosen up and let whatever came out, come out.

Which it did. Tonight's exercise involved randomly drawing an archetype, one of either "Poet," "Artist," or "Scribe," and then reaching into Sean's Crown Royal bag of plastic animals and pulling out an animal. You were then supposed to write a story where a person, who fit the archetype, was confronted with a countless number of the animal. In the story you were to explore the tone and mood suggested by the animal, and work out what the relationship was between the character (and his/her archetype) and the animals.

I got "poet" and a pink plastic pig.

This launched me off into a 45-minute visceral, visual and tactile dream-dive into the sheer physicality of pigs, their earthiness and bodily presence. I won't say it was good, but it was certainly weird, and unexpected and satisfying to write. Words I hadn't been expecting to use came burbling up, and I felt a whole lot less resistance than usual. Often my rational mind balks at just letting go and seeing what comes out. This time, as soon as I decided this was about dreams, I managed to release. Or maybe it was just that I'm ready to write some new stuff, and do some new things, and check out some other creative roads, now that Chasing Boudicca's a little more behind me. 

I like some of what I wrote, and will have to play with it more. A lot more, really. What I like about it has more to do with feelings and images than actual words. Once again, not something I would ever have chosen to write about, for which I have to thank Sean. The Play Date is really good for me. I've missed it.

The Creative Writing Play Date, by the way, meets every Tuesday from 8:00-10:00 at Mother Tongue Books. In the first hour you get a prompt and write about it: in the second hour you share what you've written and get feedback. It's on a drop-in basis, and newcomers are always welcome.

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