Robin Williams and a Spark of Madness

Photo by BirdWorks, all rights reserved

You’re only given a little spark of madness.

You mustn’t lose it.
Robin Williams

You know, that quote could be taken two different ways:
1) Don’t take a creative streak for granted – run with it and create something already.
2) Don’t assume that a creative streak is going to last forever – so do what it takes to stay sane.
I did something fun this weekend. After 7 and 3/4 months of avoidance, I hooked up with a local writers group. As expected, they were normal people who seemed to have little interest in finding ways to bully me on the playground. It’s a shame that during the time that I avoided finding like-minded souls, I was assuming that people in this writers group had the tendencies of the less creative members of the animal kingdom. I know now that it has been a very, very long time since I have been on a swing set with someone who likes to make something out of this and that, or out of nothing at all.
Here are some of the things that I wish I had remembered about hanging out with creative people:
1) We are so self-absorbed that even our efforts to critique work done by someone else are often shadowed by our own need to be heard
2) Missed social cues are so common that when even a few of us are in a room extremely funny events occur.
3) In such situations my distractiblilty is a clear advantage (I can pick up on the most interesting details) along with a distinct disadvantage (I constantly miss the beat).
In Friday’s post I mentioned that my favorite stories often include a theme that includes alternative possibilities. I doubt that I can do justice to how funny this thirty-five second misunderstanding went at this author workshop, but here goes…
Two of us were new, which was creating a nervous edge.
Two of the regulars were late, which was creating a nervous edgier-ness.
Both of the two who were late, were the group leaders. Awkward.
After the process was well under way of people reading drafts of poems, essays and children’s books in order to get feed back, I was having a lot of fun observing, but was distracted by the fact that a lot of energy was going into helping those of who were new to properly jump in the game.
At one point there seemed to be a flurry of gracefully received suggestions about what a writer was clearly very emotionally attached to and anxious for constructive feed back.
I heard the leader say : “Something, something” and the writer agreed enthusiastically “Oh, yes and something, something.”
It seemed to me that everyone knew what was said and everything was groovy, so I asked the leader:
“Did you just tell her to ‘kill the garlic’?”
“Ohhhh no, no. I said that sometimes we need to ‘kill the darlings’ which is what Hemingway referred to when raising the issue of cutting out work that doesn’t support the story.”
I said, “I thought maybe it was something regional”  and there was a lot of laughter about garlic and a mention that the new movie about Abraham Lincoln and vampires could be a part of this young woman’s editorial changes.
I guess I’m doing Robin Williams proud, no matter which way you flip the coin.