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Event Reviews

Student Salon: Using Surrealist Techniques to Break Down Creative Barriers

by Jessica Harrington

This last weekend was the first ever Wordfire writing conference at Butte College. We had an amazing turnout to accompany the wonderful workshops, food, and good vibes that filled the day. Us Haberdashers took part in the workshop fun and held our very own student salon where we focused on overcoming writing blocks. We had the attendees do a group writing exercise using our interpretation of the Surrealist technique known as the Exquisite Corpse. The groups ranged from three to five people, one person would start, writing five sentences. Then they would cover up the first four sentences before handing it off to the next person in their group. That person would then write five of their own sentences based on the last sentence of the previous person. We did this until each person in each group contributed. This technique helps people break down walls that could inhibit their creativity. Building part of a story off a sentence from another person can help you go in directions you might not if you were writing alone. We bonded over cookies and laughter while we shared what our groups came up with and other techniques each person uses for inspiration or to help getting a piece started(Check out our ‘Writing Tips’ section for these helpful tips and more!). We would like to say thank you to all the people who not only attended our salon, but also the Wordfire writing conference. We had a great time and we hope you enjoy reading what the groups came up with below (be sure to click the image link to view the stories in their handwritten form)!

Story One

By Margaret Jones, Izzy Emmons, and Melissa Smith

Group 1 (1) Group 1 (2)

It was dark when I rode my bike towards home. The fog was just beginning to sink into the orchards. I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds shift over the moon. Suddenly I saw lights approaching me and tried to swerve away from them. But, try as I might, I couldn’t escape the blinding lights.

They called to me, talked to me, buzzing and blinking. They remind me of bugs, and bugs remind me of when we went camping that one time when I was young and I touched a doe. I still remember the softness of its fur, of its eyes, so soft and brown like clearly muddy puddles. I snapped back to reality as I turned around looking at the light beams pouring down. I thought of light, and bugs, and that deer in the woods.

Light filtered down through the canopy down on me. I could hear the birds and squirrels scrabbling from one tree to another. I continued wandering down the path, weaving around fallen branches, the pine needles crunching beneath my bare feet. I followed the path down, until the trees fell away and I stood on the sandy shoreline of a glistening lavender lake. A worn wooden dock was bobbing in the lake.

I jumped into the water, leaving my backpack on the dock, my shoes got heavy with water.

Story Two

By Alyssa Hoofard, Michelle Marks, David Puerner, Will Clevenger, and Patrick Emmons

Group 2 (1) Group 2 (2)

It was the middle of winter. The snow had

Just started coming down,

I was wandering looking for a place to hide,

I was determined to overcome.

The cold is becoming unbearable.

I pulled on my industrial-grade-material parka, the thick fibers of the lining grazing the side of my face as the icy wind pummeled its way through the small plateau, dwarfed on all sides by the towering cliffs of the Himalayas, where I had set up base camp.

The deranged nudists had taken over Haberdasher HQ, and imprisoned the Haberdashers within their own dungeon. Then the nudists demanded pizza, so they wrote a letter to Obama addressed the nation. “We have to come together, and put a stop to these nudists!” The crowd cheered!!!

They raised their glasses to us. The wine spilled out as if they were anointing us with victory. We were invincible. Who could challenge us?

Us with our stiffened jaws hiding clenched yellowed teeth. Behind the shade of a looming oak, the moon gave way to the light as just a single dried out leaf drifted to its death.

Story Three

By Dorothea Curtis, Christina “Cree” Sandoval, Janae Murphy, John M. Fuller, and Muir Hughes

Group 3

We were spinning wishes in the wind. He spoke of thunder. She spoke of rain. The birds sang sings of death. I didn’t know what to say.

I acted as if everything was fine. I knew it wasn’t. I wish he would have said something. But I knew he was a coward. In my opinion, most men are.

Arrogant teddy bears who don’t smile. The best friend a dog can have. Good husbands and great fathers. Happy when they drink beer. Sport loving and beer drinking people.

No one was sure how this could happen at Joey’s bar because it just wasn’t that kind of town. Dead, at the end of the alley, twin ninja stars in the chest. Just not very sporting for a man known for his barrel chest, baritone voice and mad yo-yo skills.

Deep was the grief and thick were the tears of young maidens as the now disarmed man was marched down the country road. The man to take the world, young hearts in hand. Gone with the wonderful cry of coyote lost In the echo of the funeral train.

Story Four

By Sara Lopes, Holly Thomas, Cassidy Williams, and Caroline Steele

Group 4

Each stroke of her brush had more meaning than the last. She wished someone was there to witness her masterpiece. If only anyone cared about the strokes as much as she did. She hoped that one day more people would walk around with paint stained fingers. One day she would see it all come to life.

Her creation would change mankind. All suffering would be forgotten for all of eternity. She turned on the switch and the electricity surged. Lightening flickered through the sky. Then a knock rapped on the door, startling the woman.

Visitors don’t come by often in her village. She lit her torch and decided to open the door. Darkness had always been a fear of hers, but ignoring the fact she turned the knob. She saw the face of a man.

At first she didn’t recognize him. She had to take a double take and then she realized that he was her husband. She thought at first she was seeing a ghost so she ran from him. She turned the corner and though she escaped him. She peered her head around to see where he was and he was gone.

Story Five

By the Haberdashers:  Mackenzie Stickney, Jessica Harrington, Erica German, Karl Travis, and Jasmine Sarwar

Group 5 (1) Group 5 (2)

If I could close my eyes and bring myself to tell you- I would. But you keep giving me that “back off” glance that I can’t get pass. I could give you the world and you’d make it look like a pebble. Longing to say it wasn’t my fault.

I tried to convince myself it was your fault. I then tried to find you so I could confess what I had done- take responsibility, but it was a vain attempt. I already fucked up, I lost your trust. Last I heard you were happy- with her. I hate that she has you, that she realized how great you really are.

I miss going for walks with you in the rain. Remember when you took a dip in the creek and I thought you were drowning, so I jumped in fully clothed? I remember your velvety coat and the warmth you radiated. Now that I remember how great you are, would you come back to me? Curled up on her lap, why would you? You have found your home with her.

And you will never be the same. The course of your life has been altered forever and you have finally found yourself and realized your destiny. Can you believe it? How could you have guessed? Is this actually true? Yes! Yes!! It’s true! It’s all true

I did it… I don’t know why! I craved it, I lust for it. It needs to happen now and again. I never thought I would say these words again. Give me another cookie.

About The Haberdasher

Created by writers for writers, The Haberdasher, or le Hab, is your Peddler of Literary Art for Northern California and beyond. In addition to writing tips and literary debates, we also feature critical reviews and author interviews.


2 thoughts on “Student Salon: Using Surrealist Techniques to Break Down Creative Barriers

  1. Thank you for posting these – the exercise was a lot of fun. Some of us even want to keep working with our story (individually) and see what happens with it. 🙂

    Posted by Melissa Smith | May 7, 2012, 2:54 pm

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