Saturday, November 04, 2006

claire in the sand

I'm working on a re-write of my first novel, and after posting the sandplay photo earlier this week, I remembered that for several weeks, back in 2004, I did a series of sandtrays from the "perspective" of my main character, Claire.

How perfect it is to recall that right now, as I delve back into her world, seeking deeper insight into who she is.

I'm interested to see if studying these photos two years after the fact reveals new information about Claire and/or impacts my revision.


billie said...

Okay, I put this up last night and clearly worked on it while sleeping, as I awoke today realizing it's not insight into CLAIRE I need, but insight into the structure of the book. And I think the answer is there, and pretty obvious to me this morning.

But in the interest of looking at Claire, I'll play my own game and say this:

The striking thing about the first tray is its barrenness: much of the tray is unused, the upper right corner is filled, but with rock. The figure of the woman is hopeful (for me personally, anyway) as she's reaching upward, facing upward, and she has shelter, of a sort, but it's driftwood. There is no life except the cones - seeds, a hopeful sign of life to come, but no water. The fluorite is the most positive thing I see, the capacity for healing and insight.

The second tray: she's begun a journey. There's a path now. I like the addition of the amethyst, the rough gemstone in addition to the polished fluorite. Some sign of the unconscious, especially with the positioning of the stones. There is life now - the trees, more cones, and the fire - especially surrounded by what seem like benches - places to sit, implying there will be company. Or a stopping/resting place along the way. She is not alone? The rocks in the upper right corner seem more open and inviting in this tray. The empty containers, some tipped as if they have spilled, seem indicative of a central issue. The thing that stands out to me most, though is the solitary stone that's moving closer to the most unused portion of the tray. I want to know what that is. It feels important.

The third tray: Some evidence of stability - the driftwood has returned, but is safely (?) surrounded/grounded by the forest, the life in the tray. The path from the previous tray is now showing a quite literal tranformation, from lower left moving to upper right corners... and one of the empty baskets has been filled. (not clear in the photo, but it's filled with the rune Gebo, a rune of partnership and fulfillment). And yet the path beyond that is blocked, in fact the tray is split nearly in half by the rocks, almost wall-like. The upper right corner now holds a hearth, a home, a heart inside a crown, and the energy of the circling horses is strong and good, I think, but also feels protective of something not yet revealed. I'm not sure if it's visible (I can click on the photos and enlarge them so I can easily see this) - but there's a depression in the sand very close to where the single stone was in the previous tray, and this is the area being walled off by the rocks. B/c of the depression there, it seems the issue is not "gone" but hidden, or being denied - something left undone.

The last tray: seems like there are missing trays, as though the process has skipped ahead. As is, I like the circle, the feeling of centeredness. The trees, the fire. There's something that feels ungrounded though, and also something feels very superficial about this tray. I wonder about the shells by the fire. The shells of seeds?

So... that would be my take on Claire's process. From a clinical perspective, she's nowhere near done.

But on the structure of the novel, it is even more informative. The depression in the sand, the area of the tray not used, the missing piece of the process... aha! I can absolutely plug this in to the revision.

During the time of these trays I was working with my agent on a daily basis reworking the novel - so the structure was much on my mind, and I have to think (or at least hope) that looking back now I can gain some insight into what might be "missing" in the book.

For the writers who visit, this might be interesting... for the rest of you, I apologize for indulging myself so completely...:)


Anonymous said...

I have no idea how to "read" these, but my impression is that the first tray seems sparse and disorganized.

The second has a path and possibly a goal.

The third seems to show a wall, an impedence along the way and it appears to be cluttered (is she going through her life reassessing things?).

The fourth seems to show sparseness again, but the sand seems very smooth, like she's organized herself into a more Spartan way of living - or has focuses on what is important and is at peace with that. The fourth seems to be a triumph over the impedence of the third.

Perhaps now she will be more mindful of what she chooses to allow into her life - like she's cleared things out and is ready to mindfully start anew.

And, I did not read what you've written here Billie. I thought I'd try my hand at figuring it out.

Which, of course, means what I've written is likely way off base - but it is another perspective.

billie said...

Thanks, Joni and Wendy, for the insights.

After my own long and detailed comments, I feel the the need to point out that in actual sandplay therapy with clients, it is NOT the interpretations of the tray that are helpful; in fact most times the trays are never interpreted to/for the client.

The therapeutic piece is the actual doing of the tray, and the key to that being truly useful is the degree to which the client feels the space is safe and protected, which has everything to do with the demeanor and abilities of the therapist in concert with the client's capacity to open to it.


Whatever it is going on in the tray, this little exercise has got me revising full force over the weekend, so... hurrah! I have not done this kind of thing with the subsequent books... may have to devote some weekends to sand trays and protagonists. :)