I’ve been asked to do a Creative Writing session for the Janki Foundation. They are a group who work towards instilling values into the parts of the health care system that they come into contact with. The people have (or are retired from) jobs such as psychologists, doctors, therapists and as such are, as I perceive it, highly educated and savvy in the ways of life. I’m a little bit intimidated by the thought of bringing my type of irreverant humour to the table.
Here’s the information I’ve been given:
- A Creative Writing session for the Janki Foundation lasting for one hour.
- Audience: some are members of the Steering Group associated with JF projects.
- It’s the 25th anniversary coming up, and the meeting is partly to discuss and plan for this (the theme will be Care, Share & Inspire).
Okay, I’m not intimidated. I’m a little terrified. I mean, what possible value can I bring to the lives of these people? What can I teach or show them that they don’t already know? What do I have to offer?
At this point, I could really start to psyche myself out. I only have to think about the one who laughs at my every pronouncement as if she’s been insulted/outraged/disgusted/amused (tick all the apply (they all do)) to get the shivers. Then there’s the one whose every sentence starts with a drawn out ‘well …’, as she’s going to refute what I just said with some deep learning from her decades of listening to mental incompetents from her black, leather psychotherapist charir. Then there’s the one who just looks at me down her nose.
Or I could just be myself, brilliance and all. I can, when I want to be, rather funny in an offbeat kind of a way. And I can thicken my skin on demand; at least for long enough to get me through sixty minutes. And I have a quick and inventive mind. I also have loads of books on how to write creatively. And I’ve done plenty of creative writing sessions before and got some really great feedback. People tend to like me, for whatever unfathomable reasons they have, and so I can use that to my advantage.
All I have to do now is figure out what to do for that hour. Here are some ideas I’ve thought of:
- Have them relate a story by going around the room getting the next person to carry on (with a sentence or two) from the last person. I could write it down, but that would slow the pace somewhat so I wonder if anyone there knows shorthand (and would be willing to help). Of course, I could pick a suitable theme and set up preconditions for the story.
- Suggest melding the things they know with principles from disciplines they (presumably) know little about (such as electrical engineering, astrophysics, woodworking or three-dimensional printing technology) and tell a story from that perspective. I’ve know this to inspire creative responses because it takes them out of their comfort zones and encourages them to be fresh. It can also inspire resistance, which, of course, I’ll overcome with humour.
- Mess with their minds by telling half the room that it will be a very easy experience and telling the other half that it will be bone-crunchingly difficult. Doesn’t really solve what I want them to write, but it’ll be fun.
- Imagine that you’re writing up a case-study and a supernatural being (angel/devil/alien/monster/prophet/deity) appears and offers to answer all their questions about life, the universe and everything. Write that conversation.
- Put yourself on the couch and ask yourself all the questions you would ask a patient. Write that dialogue.
- Write a letter to who you were in your last birth.
- Another idea I have.
- And something else I thought of.
There’s more, but it’s late and so I’ll have stop here. I’ll be required to add to this list before next weekend, though, because that’s when it all kicks off. Wish me luck. Yeah, I know; I won’t need it. Wish it anyway.