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This is me, Kelly Hevel
Monthly Archives: March 2012
Be like a mother sea turtle: lay an egg.
Actually, lay many eggs.
Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker, gave a talk entitled “How to be an Idea Factory”. His method? Sit down at a table for an hour (or however long it takes to drink a pot of coffee) and free-associate with a pencil and a piece of paper. This exercise leaves him with a lot of, ahem, bad eggs. But it also usually leaves him with a couple good ideas.
Diffee’s advice for aspiring creative people, according to an article in Forbes, is this: “Be like a mother sea turtle.”
So what does a mother sea turtle do? She lays a lot of eggs on the beach then swims away, leaving them to fend for themselves. Some of them never hatch. Many of them hatch, only to be gobbled up immediately by predators. But that’s not the mother sea turtle’s concern. Her only job is to keep laying eggs.
Lately have seen the wisdom in this. I have been madly laying eggs for a couple months now. Lots of ideas and opportunities have presented themselves and then faded away. In some cases I have followed the idea through only to let it go then have it resurface a few months later and turn into something fantastic.
For example, in October I was invited to do a workshop for high school students, and immediately sent a proposal. I followed up, but a few months passed with no progress so I let it go. Suddenly, the school got back to me, and very quickly the workshop was planned, coordinated, and off I went to deliver it. Now, unlike the mother sea turtle I do check in on my “eggs” periodically if the opportunity presents itself. But I don’t fixate on one or smother it with attention. I have other eggs to lay!
Many of the egg/opportunities I have laid have led to another, which led to another. In fact, I believe reaching critical mass in the multitude of eggs laid and ideas sown allows ideas to multiply and lead us to new ideas, new connections, new opportunities.
Turkey is a good place to foster and grow the ability to not become too attached to any one idea. All you can do is throw it out there and see if there is a place for it. I am offered a myriad of opportunities. Many of the most enthusiastic ideas/partnerships/collaborators just fade away, and this seems to be normal here. When it comes to new projects, most go nowhere, some become something fantastic, and I have yet to learn to identify which is which in the beginning. So I pursue interesting projects, follow-up once or twice, and then have learned to let it go. Perhaps the project is not meant to be, perhaps the potential collaborator is off laying her own eggs and will get back to me eventually, perhaps we’ll hatch the idea later.
In any case, I still have a job to do. Every day I have to lay an egg.
Last month I was fortunate enough to be invited to do creative writing workshops for the American Farm School and the Anatolia High School, both in Thessaloniki, Greece. In the workshop we wrote, we played, we dreamed, and we struggled a bit with resistance, but I give the kids credit: although I sensed some initial reticence, they played along and I think ended up surprising themselves!
A few of their discoveries:
- It’s surprising that you can discover something you never knew about someone you sit beside every day.
- It is strange and sometimes uncomfortable to hear someone else telling your story.
- It’s hard to write and talk about yourself in depth (but they did it!)
We did LOTS of automatic writing and then used it as a jumping off point for writing even more. The kids came up with some amazing stuff. I promised them their work would not be shared outside that room, and I’ll keep that promise, but they really dug deep. Some examples of what they wrote:
- A great imaginative series of mini-story/poems;
- One student wrote two complete essays, beginning to end using only his prompt word and his imagination;
- Another took himself off to a corner of the library and wrote a “once upon a time” story about a boy and a girl;
- There were stories and musings about planes, families of cats, and the love of rain and rainy days;
- Poems and thoughts about a song that came to mind;
- From the prompt word “gray” came thoughts on being in the middle, black vs. white, and taking sides.
I had such a fantastic time and was inspired by their discoveries. There’s talk of having me back for a Part 2, so my fingers are crossed that that works out–I’d love to work with these groups again!
Interested in scheduling a Storytelling Creativity Workshop for your high school or group? Please contact me at Kelly@KellyHevel.com, I would love to work with you!
What is the purpose of the workshop?
This creativity workshop is designed to inspire, enlighten, and energize, and will focus on expression and playful ways to tap into creativity.
The Storytelling Creativity Workshop is the place to shed inhibitions, try out new techniques, and inject personality into writing. It is a place where students learn to use their unique life stories as inspiration. The workshop is perfect for students who are getting ready to apply to colleges and universities and need to learn to write more creatively using their own personal “voice”.
Who is the workshop for? Is it only for “real” writers with expert skills?
The message I want to get across is twofold:
- You don’t have to be an expert to participate in any creative practice and, contrary to the myth of the suffering artist, writing doesn’t have to be painful. Everyone has many stories to tell, so come play with us and share some of yours!
- Creativity is not just for “special” people with “special” (read: superhuman/genius) abilities. It’s for you. It is! You’re allowed!
This workshop is a playdate for the big kids. It’s a place to explore and learn tools and techniques for creative expression that can be used in many arenas.
Half-day and full-day workshops are available, and can be tailored to any special needs or goals students may have. Contact me to discuss your needs!