I heard Adam Savage speak at the Bay Area Maker Faire yesterday. So lucky! But it wasn't easy.
Adam--maker extraordinaire of "Myth Busters" fame--was scheduled to speak at an undisclosed time, at a "secret" location. I had given up on seeing him. But because I had download the faire's app on my phone (it was immensely helpful when looking for a bathroom), I noticed a text message at 11:57, announcing that Adam would be speaking in the West Lot at noon. Ahhh!
With my husband and two kids on board, we did a quick huddle to try and figure out where in the heck the West Lot was, then (still clueless) took off in a westerly direction.
Pause. Back up a second. I'm not a "maker". But I loved the creative spirit of the Maker Faire, and I feel enriched by having been there to appreciate the artistry that exists in building and engineering. It was an eye-opener for me. And everything about Adam's talk on the topic of "making" could be applied to creative doers and thinkers of any kind.
Here's what resonated with me the most about Adam in general and about what he told us. Some items are paraphrased; one is a direct quote because I hit the record button on my phone at a key moment when Adam hadn't just finished saying the thing I wanted to etch in stone (how lucky is that?).
* In general, Adam Savage is a fascinating figure because of his enthusiasm, curiosity, and uncanny ability to frame life experiences into "story"--meaningful story.
* One woman asked how she could find the strength to go on "making" when others denigrated her work. And Adam's answer (which included a hug for that audience member) serves a great road map for any creative person who feels stuck or alone:
1- Find your tribe. Get into a group of like-minded people who can offer support--whether in-person or virtual.
2- Support others. Adam said: "There are times in my life when I feel like I'm not getting enough support. Almost ALWAYS what that means is, I'm not supporting the people around me enough. That's the trick. And I go back towards the Buddhist ideal of "service". To serve the people around me. What can I do for their lives? What can I do to make their lives better?" (Is this a good place to mention that Adam stayed for a really, really long time after his talk, answering audience questions in-depth? He was generous with his time to an admirable degree.)
3- Teach what you know. You can get a lot out of teaching others. You don't have to be perfect to pass along your knowledge.
How does this apply to writers? I think it says an awful lot in favor of writers' groups and the learning, teaching, and creative interplay that happens there. I think it says a lot for online communities--such as Julie Hedlund's 12x12 for picture book writers--that bring together like-minded hobbyists and/or professionals. I think it says a lot about idea generation, following creative pathways, and learning to frame your life experiences as if they were stories--rich with significance and meaning.
...Just like the stories we want to write!