I was listening to an episode of a podcast called “The Tim Ferriss Show” last week Tim was interviewing Dan Carlin of “Hardcore History.” The excellence of Dan’s preparation, delivery, and subject matter is fascinating. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check this podcast out. He explores the “why’s and the “what ifs” in a way that really grabs you and provokes you to think. He’s also terrific at making connections with different events and movements taking place at the same time, as well as events and movements that preceded and influence each story he covers.
What interests me about the segment that I heard though, was his theory of how our work and art evolves and becomes what it is over time.. An example he used was “Seinfeld.” Mr. Carlin said, “go back and watch the first five episodes of Seinfeld.” He goes on to talk about how the “Seinfeldness” of “Seinfeld” evolved over the course of the show. The quirkiness and uniqueness of Seinfeld wasn’t a given at the start of the show. There was organic development within the cast, the writers, and the audience that made “Seinfeld” distinctive. He went on to apply this insight to any long-term artistic project.
My takeaway from this is that with any long-term creative project, we must have a key concept and a plan. But we must also expect the project to organically incorporate elements that we do not foresee, and once momentum is created, to taken on a life of its own.
This gives me a great deal of encouragement in teaching, writing, and in my pastoral role in the church. I’m blessed to have been providentially dumped into a great organization that has allowed me to make the most of my abilities and given me the freedom to do this and enjoy it. Once I’d been at Providence Extension Program for a while, it felt like I should have been doing this all along. Yet, my teaching eight years down the road has organically grown as I’ve achieved greater command my subject matter to teach out of depth rather than last-minute preparation. I’ve grown in my ability to create classes as learning communities, in such a way that even if I teach the same prep four times in a week, that each experience of that material is remarkably different.
My hope is that I will persevere in my writing, in such a way that the same kind of organic development will happen, that I will be able to develop discrete concepts within the unity of personality and interests, and express them in an inviting and compelling way.
What examples of organic growth and development have you seen in your writing? I’d love to hear from you!