Just back from another weekend away with my favourite art journaling group at the Red Farmhouse. Unlike art retreats with classes, teachers and schedules, our little group arrives with a whack of supplies and (usually) no specific goal in mind except to create a space where we can work on (play with?) whatever projects, materials and tools are taking our fancy at the moment. One of the many things that amaze me on our quarterly retreats is that I always seem to come home with something that wasn't even in my mind when I set out. And unlike at home, the projects I work on at the Red Farmhouse arrive almost as a package ~ and while there, I'm pretty driven to get them as complete as they can be, knowing that when I go home, I'll be pulled away to other responsibilities and I worry that I'll lose the thread, and they'll never be completed.
All my life, I've had strange dreams, and sleeping in strange places gives me even stranger dreams. Stranger, more vivid, live-it-like-you-were-there kind of vividness. This happens every time I go to the Red Farmhouse. I wake up one morning with *something* unusual spilling out of my head and onto my journal pages (usually verbal), and somehow over the course of the next few days I'm able to turn it into something visual that I wouldn't have created any other time. This weekend's experience was no exception ... Saturday morning, I woke from a dream about a wonderful creative relationship that comes up against an all too familiar obstacle.
But I'd (foolishly!) left my journal downstairs Friday night, so the trick was to stay sleepy enough to keep all the details in my head, but awake enough to maneuver the stairs down and then back up to my room where I could write everything down. Seven pages and an hour or so later, it was all spilled messily out onto the page. Satisfied, I went downstairs to see what was sort of creative stuff was cooking at the big art table, but for some reason the story just wouldn't leave me. I kept falling back into the environment, the characters, the events. The project I'd intended to work on seemed flat and distant compared to the brightness of the dream. But, at the same time, I didn't know what to do next. It was obviously just a short story. Funny ... I say that like I write short stories all the time ... trust me, I don't. Well, not short stories that *other* people would recognize as short stories. This one I could almost imagine reading in a real book.
By lunchtime I still couldn't shake the story. As we sat in the kitchen after lunch, I asked if anyone would mind if I read my story, and they were all up for it. I was pretty nervous, I'm not the kind of person who enjoys reading my work aloud. And what's really weird is that I realized I wanted to read it to them almost because I wanted witnesses to the fact that this extraordinary thing had fallen out of my head only hours before. I was afraid if I took it away "under wraps" that something bad would happen to it in the editing stage and I might never share it with anyone. Ever. And that seemed like a shame, not because it's such a marvelous story (hard to tell what it might be once properly edited), but because it's existence seemed as much about our being all together in that space as it was about the original dream. Like it kind of belonged to all of us, and I was just the channel it came in through.
The story continued to stay with me all that day, and the next, and in fact, here is it Tuesday and it's still with me. I think this is because it badly needs editing, and I'm afraid to get too far away from it before I do that. Or maybe I'm afraid to be too close. Or something. I've put one of the unedited sections of the story here for you so you'll see something of it's current state. I know soon I'll be brave enough to edit it. I know it'll find the right form eventually. In my next post, I'll show you what happened next, and for that too I credit my friends at the Red Farmhouse.