For years, members of the creative writing club Inkblot have collaborated with fifth-grade students from Lafayette Elementary School to transform drawings into written pieces in an endeavor they call the “Dream Project.” Despite complications with virtual communication, the leaders of Inkblot were adamant about continuing the tradition.
As with previous years, teachers at Lafayette had their students submit drawings depicting their most vivid dreams to the Inkblot club. The members then composed creative writing pieces based on how they interpreted the drawings. This year, members prepared works of various writing styles, ranging from poetry to short stories. Under normal circumstances, the high school students would have gone to the elementary school to recite their writing aloud to the fifth-grade students. To mimic the usual routine, members with shorter pieces recorded themselves reading their works. This helped the elementary school students better understand the tone of the writing and made the connection between the writing and the drawing that inspired it more personal.
To obtain further insight, the Chronicle interviewed co-president Rachel Williams on the inner workings behind the Dream Project.
Q: So, why do you do the Dream Project? What is valuable about it, in your opinion?
A: I think what’s valuable about it is the element of collaboration. Writing is amazing on its own, but there’s something special about writing something for someone else and getting to see their enjoyment. That’s the main reason why I think it’s a good project. The concept of fifth-graders drawing their dreams and us writing stories about them makes you think about where you draw your inspiration from. It helps you craft different ideas, so it’s a good way to make you feel good as a writer, and it’ll definitely help you grow as a writer.
Q: I know that you usually do this in person. Now that we’re doing it virtually with the Coronavirus, would you mind telling us about some of the challenges you’ve faced? What was the most challenging part of coordinating this project?
A: The most challenging part was collaborating with the teachers because usually, as you said, we can go and present our stories in person. With COVID-19, that just wasn’t possible, so it took us a while to figure out how to organize the project submissions so that we could give them to the teacher easily, but still have that enjoyment factor. We wouldn’t want to make it feel tedious for the fifth-graders to take part in [the project].
Q: Is there anything better about doing this project virtually, do you think?
A: I don’t know; it isn’t terrible, but at the same time, I think that a lot of the magic behind the project is removed by the fact that you’re doing it all behind the screen. It’s still really fun to do, but presentations are always better when you can present it in person.
Williams is hopeful that members will be able to resume in-person presentations soon. In the meantime, the club is glad to provide the Lafayette students with some source of joy during these tough times.
Read three of the short poems created by Inkblot members using the links below.