I like explorations that allow me to look differently at objects. Physicality of an object is for me as important as the object’s potential. How does it taste? How does it sound? What could it do? What unexpected use it may have?
I like explorations that can take place in the mornings, before I am trapped by all things busy, and only require minimum of preparation. I like explorations that motivate me to go for a walk whilst enjoying here and now. I don’t smell, breath, walk consciously enough.
I like explorations that allow me time to write outdoors. On the bench or whilst standing. In a park or at a bus stop. Somewhere where people walk by. I benefit from their movement.
I like explorations with company. Encouragement, energy and togetherness is what motivates me. I don’t thrive on my own.
I have translated my affinity for small scale, everyday explorations into a short session that was part of Greenwich Book Fest. The workshop allowed other people to dip into techniques that I use to write and to walk. For this morning session I used objects from the collection of National Maritime Museum and our room to work in was Greenwich Park.
Mercy Sword, Digital Participation Assistant at the National Maritime Museum, participated in the workshop:
We first spent a few minutes looking at objects from the collection and making lists to describe how these might taste, feel or sound; another list about what it might be used for, as well as its unexpected uses. These different ways of looking at the objects paid off cleverly later.
We now walked into the park, not talking, as this would distract us from the experience of focussing on our surroundings (in this case trees, clouds, sunshine, people, grass). We found a quiet spot to write and Ania tasked us with producing a paragraph about a character connected to the object. Without realising it, the process of walking had conjured up new ideas to describe, and connect my object and character, in my writing. I would never have come up with a burnished mango sliced by a dirk (my object) if I hadn’t been walking through trees (although not mango trees) and been told to think about the weapon’s unexpected uses.
Ania asked us to transcribe our ‘best’ sentence onto an index card. These could then be used as a contact card once we had shared with a partner and fed back on each other’s work. This novel method of both evaluating your own work and turning it into a kind of gift for the other person was a lovely touch. It also turned into a memento of our work, of our experience, to take home.
I will definitely use these free association techniques to create new stories because you never know where or how it might end up.