You can apply to take Highveld’s writing studios solo online or join a scheduled group studio. Studios range from 2 weeks to 8 weeks, and group studios may be supported by an event somewhere on the Highveld.
Online writing studios cost R600/week and include exercises, assignments, readings, and detailed feedback on your studio submissions. None of the group studios requires you to give feedback to the other members of the group. Day and weekend studios cost R1,200/day. Refreshments and accommodation are not included in my fee.
I ran Write Sex over 2 weeks in December 2015. Here is some of the work we did: Tralala, To Taste Life Twice, Listen, Sensation Dim Reality, You Have to Find a Way, Trembling Like the Sky, Her Little Jewel Box, Mysterious Conjunctions, The Delicious Grace, Read Sex.
Listed below are some of my studio offerings. If you’re interested, email me at email@example.com. If there’s something you want to do that isn’t listed, suggest it to me.
Intention, Intuition and Technique explores the relationship between our creative intentions and the literary techniques we choose. Many of us make technical choices intuitively. We may be aware of the mechanics of a certain technique, but often not of the implications. Point of view, narrative structure, genre, even grammatical tense, are among the most basic choices we must make consciously to serve what we want to achieve. In a virtuous circle, this acute sensitivity to the effects of technique can bring us closer to our deepest creative intentions, perhaps hidden or secret or disavowed when we began the work. In this intensive, input-oriented, teaching studio, we will interrogate your intentions and experiment with the effects of different technical choices to give you more power and flexibility for realising your literary vision.
Want to Write Sex? We will start by reading the worst sex scenes ever written, and then we will analyse your favourite written sex and establish why it works. You will sexualise a piece of writing which avoids sex. You will censor a piece of written sex. You will write: pornography, erotica, romance, and literary sex. We will discuss how cinema deals with sex. We will discuss the necessity for writing sex at all.
Beethoven and the Blues will teach us to recognise, set up and disrupt patterns in our writing. We will listen to Beethoven and traditional and contemporary blues and learn to hear the patterns and map them. We will write music in words, using structural and sonic repetitions to generate work that is architectural in its foundations and delightful to the eye and the ear. We will discuss how to use these techniques in narrative prose.
Our memories – social, familial, cultural, personal – are coded: by those who share them, and by ourselves as we turn “what happened” into the stories that suit us. In Imaginative Remembering, we will tell our lies. And they will lead us like a trail of pebbles to a new remembered truth. We will imagine “what happened” rather then replay it. We will make things up, exaggerate, change the endings. We will generate fiction that is true.
Using The Microscope and the Stars, we will practice observation up close and from afar. We’ll find the universe in a drop of water. We’ll turn the telescope the wrong way round. We’ll write standing on our heads. We’ll watch the world go by with our eyes closed.
In The Sonnet Machine, we use the strictures of form to release us from the strictures of our habits. We all make creative moves that come easily to us: perhaps they’ve been successful in past work, perhaps we admire them in other writers, perhaps we’ve just been making them for years. They can become so familiar that they feel natural, and we forget that once it was a choice to use that particular voice, or punctuation style, or way of ending a story. Included in these comfortable moves are our imaginative associations. One idea reliably generates another idea we love. The Sonnet Machine forces us to make moves we may not want to or like, and takes us beyond our creative defences into the danger zone of our untamed imagination. This intensive studio begins with a brief introduction to the sonnet forms, then moves to a sonnet writing hazing out of the familiar and into the wild of your writer’s mind. You will forge new neural pathways to the images, stories – the words – that your habits have been protecting you from. In the final session of the studio, I will guide you to begin a new piece of work with the stamina and freedom you will have acquired.
How conscious are you of Your Literary Heritage? This studio explores influences on your work by a close reading of your current project. We analyse the influences we identify. We read the related masterworks. We hone your individuality. We honour the artists who have made your work possible.
In Cinema and Non-narrative Writing we will learn from experimental cinema how to express ourselves without telling a story.
We will journey deep inland in our inner kingdoms and the world we live in and return with Fantastic Tales from the Hinterland.
How about Not Writing? This studio is medicine for your keyboard burnout, and excellent for anyone close to finishing a big piece of work, or just starting, or stuck. You’ll handmake a couple of simple books instead of writing one. Our engagement with something like the physical object our writing will become will inspire and energise you. Working in three dimensions with paper, pictures, glue and thread will bring you relief. You will rest. While you’re not hammering away at it, your work will be breathing. And you’ll return to it gentler and more determined.
Drawing for Writers is a meditation practice for accessing your imagination.
Poetry as Investigative Practice uses the traditions and forms of poetry to explore our ideas and heighten our sonic awareness in our prose.
In Experiments Intensive you will write ceaselessly in ways that you don’t want to. Uncomplaining and total submission to my instructions is required. You will emerge with technical and expressive options beyond the limits of your habits and taste.
Defamiliarising ourselves with what we think we know redeems us into wonder. An Essay on the Familiar will generate wonder-ful creative truth stranger than fiction.