There are so many of us who decide fairly early in life that we want to be writers and nothing but writers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if at that point we didn’t have to go to regular school anymore but were whisked off to a Hogwarts-like school for writers instead?
Let’s say this school was:
The Holographic School of Writing and Cogitating
An alternate world – a castle – where writers make worlds with words. Lighting up real-life stories or conjuring people and places and plants that were never there before. A space where words are sheer magic and ideas and imagination are serious business.
A dreamy gaggle of adolescents, we’d arrive at a beautiful fairy tale castle, of high, honey colored stone, ornamented walls, towers, and friendly gargoyles, with extensive grounds and gardens all around.
After being shown to the delightfully appointed, great-for-reading-and-writing dorms and freshening up, we would walk into a great hall to be welcomed by storytellers seated on plush carpets. We’d each gather around one of them, held spellbound by tales of wonder. Then they’d tell us about the school and its customs and orient us to what was expected of us in the first few weeks. And whichever storyteller we had chosen to hear, would become our mentors for the first month and beyond.
We’d scamper off to a delicious high tea and then unpack and get introduced to everyone. The evening would for be a relaxed assimilation into our new school and home. In the days ahead, we’d explore the castle, with its many libraries and writing rooms; the grounds with its secluded writer’s cottages, the gardens, the farm, the river and the nearby town.
Two of The Libraries:
Highlights of the Castle:
- Myriad rooms and wings with extensive greenery, etc. surrounding it
- A spine-tingling tale of intrigue and tragedy hangs over the ghostly north tower
- Ideas spring to life amongst the rich light and shadows of the castle
- Semi-private dorms for students
- Plentiful healthy meals in the dining halls with easily accessible pantries stocked with sugar-free organic snacks, juices and smoothies
- An organic and sustainable kitchen farm tended by trained gardeners and students
- Whole building retrofitted to be energy-efficient and powered by renewable energy generated by the school
- Vistas of fruit and flower gardens and mazes and wild places
- Sunrise and sunset observatories
- Reading and writing nooks everywhere, well supplied with common-use laptops or even pens and blank sheets of paper
- No dress code
- Any pets are allowed and can be brought into the castle
A Reading Nook:
In a week, ‘learning’ per say would begin. To start things off, we would learn how to construct and deconstruct the simplest of folk tales, moving on in the months and years to come to short stories, fairy tales, novels, plays, epics and so much more. The knowledge of all ages and cultures would be opened up to us. Like looking up at the starry night sky and touching as many bright lights as possible.
The emphasis would be on knowledge, not instruction or test-taking. Formal ‘classes’ would be for around 4-6 hours a day, where working writers and teachers from around the globe would preside. We would read and be instructed widely in all disciplines and areas of inquiry; gradually specializing or hybridizing: some in myth, some in science, some in history, etc. and the infinite combinations thereof. The lives and works of great writers, thinkers and philosophers from the eastern and western traditions would be studied, along with the deep wisdom of the original or aboriginal peoples of the world. The angle of inquiry would be a constructive one: to appreciate the works, analyze how it was created and then place yourself in the writer’s space.
On the side, we would write our own stuff, whatever resonated most with us, whatever bubbled up from mind, heart and soul. And as practice, for class and fun, we’d try and write in a great one’s voice – whoever was our obsession that week/month/year. Transitioning from one predecessor to another till we found the true tune of our own evolving voice.
We’d share that work in the way we most felt comfortable. Either with a particular friend, or mentor or even the class as a whole.
We would also:
- Daydream professionally
- Doodle copiously
- Dawdle by the riverside
- Have a constant stream of music on to draw inspiration from
- Fight battles with armies of words
- Explore other arts or sciences and crafts
- Learn constructive strategies on how to manage the creative urge and the dynamics of inspiration
- Receive counseling to protect against fear, trauma and creative debilitation
- Learn at least one ancient language: Greek, Sanskrit, etc.
- Learn yoga and a martial art
- Form our own proto-literary movements
- Produce numerous online and print magazines
- Blog and vlog personally
- Learn at least one skill other than writing
Dreaming By the River:
Someone would always catch our exotic literary allusions and they would actually be amused. No one would laugh at us for trying out obscure but delicious words. They would join in the game. We’d all play myriad word, rhythm, cadence and rhetoric-based games. Scrabble would be the game! It would be the Quidditch of The Holographic School of Writing and Cogitating.
Publishing – the business, would be taught. Along with marketing, content marketing, social media and how to appear sane to the outside world, while maintaining the magic inside.
We would gain insight into how different readers read. Deconstructing popular and prize-winning books or simply compelling books from the past and present to see for ourselves how the maker/s arranged the pixie dust.
And so much more, oh so much more!
Courses, etc. offered by The Holographic School of Writing and Cogitating:
- The Nascent Writer Program for writers starting early
- Short, filler courses in a specific aspect of the art or craft for writers of all ages
- The Mature Writer Program for older writers
- Workshops to revive blocked/drained/depressed/traumatized writers
- Bridge course to take writers from first book to second book and so forth
- Numerous writers-in-residence positions
- MOOCs offered on general writing and creativity principles for writers everywhere
Our education would not be all academic, oh no! When we turned 18, for a few months of the year, each of us would go out into the ‘real’ world and live in it. Observing and absorbing all the details of life of the ‘muggles’ and ‘magicians’ who so fascinate us. We could travel to far parts of the globe or choose to become a fixture in a particular neighborhood, a particular town or hamlet, which seemed to hold within it the seeds of a thousand stories.
Then we’d come back and for a month we would just think! Going on to produce short works we would discuss with our mentors, who would nudge us gently to this or that line of inquiry or to tighten up our style.
Between 18-21, the first full length works would already have begun. That’s when we’d be given a room of our very own, with a small attached study and a balcony looking out into the forest. Meals would be provided as we wished, either in the dining halls or in situ.
We’d be assured help would always be provided but that this work, this was for us to accomplish ourselves. In a year, there’d be a review, so a first draft would be a good thing to have produced. But it didn’t have to be ‘publishable’, it just had to be ours.
Inexorably, one would move into the intense meditative state that is both the most essential tool a writer can cultivate as well as the first step to the graduation ceremony, which would conclude as soon as that first book was completed and then accepted by the graduation committee.
After graduation, some would opt to leave, enthusiastic and impatient; eager to start the life of a working writer. Of course, many would stay on for advanced graduate work, going deeper and deeper into the art of writing.
No matter our path, we’d always know, wherever we were on our writer’s journey, if we were ever in need, we could always go back to The Holographic School of Writing and Cogitating and find inspiration and support and shelter.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful?