Please, join me in an experiment in text. What I want us to achieve is a kind of group-mind, allowing us to write together - as a group - with the minimum of conflicting ideas and the maximum originality and imagination.
The idea of the experiment is simple enough. One of us will start the process by writing something, say a piece of prose on a topic that interests them, and will submit it to the group.
Then it starts getting interesting. The group takes the written work, and each member is given a copy. They each have the same amount of time (say, three days) to digest it, consider it, and then *re-write* all or part of it in a manner of their choosing.
All the re-writes are contributed back to the original creator at the same time. He or she then has the task of (a) posting *all* the re- writes online, alongside the original, in such a way to allow people coming along to read all the different versions easily; and (b) taking the re-writes and *editing* them into *one* new piece of work, about the same length as the original, which incorporates elements from *all* of the re-written contributions, but *not* from the original.
Please, just listen carefully so you understand what we're going to be doing for the next hour or so. I have an idea that I think you'll find fun. Listen.
Let's all think of a story - no, don't say it out loud, keep it in your head for now. Just think of a simple storyline, like "A man falls in love with someone," or "The girl who collected pencils," or something like that.
Roll it around in your head, thinking about how the story could develop from just the one line in your head. Think about the characters that might appear, the things they might say.
OK, now when you're ready, jot down your thoughts about a theme, some characters, and speeches on to the notepads I gave you earlier. When everyone's finished that, we will all pass the notepads to someone else. I won't say who yet - otherwise you could start conspiring on story ideas right now, and we don't want that.
What we're going to do is take all your thoughts and ideas and mix them all up.
When you pass your notepads to the next person, they will have the chance to mess about with them. They can add new ideas, or scribble some of yours out, or just change the meanings.
At the end, we'll put the best of all the thoughts and ideas up on the whiteboard, and we'll discuss what the next step is. OK, what are you waiting for? Get scribbling!
Please. Please just SHUT. UP.
I hate this place. I hate you. I hate this poxy work. Why do we have to do this? How is this going to help me in real life? What possible use could I have for it?
Here's what I think of your fun idea: it's shit. That's what it is.
I don't want to. No, I don't want to. Because I'd rather be down the town with my mates, on the arcade machines. Cos it's better than this. This is boring.
No I'm not. Anyway it's not about that, it's just that I really do not care. I want to be outside. I don't want to be stuck in here all day. It's boring.
Yeah. Well I will then.
Please come up with something original while you're at it. And something that sticks to the tone of my original story. It's important, you see, to keep some kind of theme running through the whole thing. What's the use of a single written work, written by many people, if it contains as many ideas as there are people? My idea about the teacher who loses control of the class, with catastrophic results, was by far the best of all of them. Most of them were just the same ideas that you see in soap operas or cheesy Hollywood thrillers.
No, I think it's very important that we stick with that idea and move it forward in a logical manner. I'll admit that my choice for a name for the teacher was perhaps a bad one, but we only had a few minutes to think about it didn't we? You thought of some good names, we could have a vote on them later. A vote is the best way because it's the most democratic. The name with the most votes wins. Then we need to decide what happens to the teacher - yes, and the pupils. My ideas for this were way better than anyone else's. Why bother voting on that? It's obvious, isn't it?
Please, take me with you.
Please understand that we cannot guarantee that anything meaningful or coherent will emerge from this writing process. The essential problem remains one of communication - how can a writer with an idea for some text explain that idea to another person, without writing out the full text?
How can a writer let go of their idea and hand it on to others, especially people he or she does not know or necessarily trust, and be assured that the idea won't be dreadfully mutated, perhaps ruined in the creators' eyes, by people who cannot understand - or refuse to accept - the premise of the original idea?
That's why the final step involved editing all the contributions, so that someone can be in charge of the structure, the shape of the finished piece. You do see why there has to be structure, don't you? Without it, all the conflicting ideas and opinions would become a complete mess, the story would lose its focus.
You're all starting to see what I mean, I hope. But I've been speaking too long now - perhaps we should open it up for questions. Could someone fetch me a glass of water, please?