I met Beth Tener in 2014 at an Art of Hosting retreat that I was co-leading in Maine. I remember appreciating immediately an inner curiosity that I felt in her. Someone who could see a bigger picture, just by the kinds of questions she was asking and the insights she was sharing. A super human being. Beth and I have stayed in touch periodically through shared friends and a few sprouts of emails and blog posts.
Beth recently shared one of her blog posts that left me in a big smile. Her topic was “micro-collaborations”. Having good partners to brainstorm with. To challenge and inspire our creativity together. Relationship matters, of course.
What I loved in particular was this story she included of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis forming a small group, The Inklings.
Many people are familiar with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Behind these legendary creative books and mythic worlds is a remarkable story of collaboration. These two writers met in the English department at Oxford University in the mid 1920’s, and discovered they shared an interest in writing mythic fiction and poetry. Lewis and Tolkien formed a small group with other colleagues called The Inklings. In sharing this story in his book, Group Genius, Keith Sawyer writes, “this was a pun that described them not only as writers but also as people who were searching with ‘vague or half-formed intimations and ideas.’”
The group met at a pub every Tuesday to talk about mythology and ideas. As trust in the group grew, they shared their writings. They took turns reading aloud and offered edits and critiques on one another’s work. Before this group, neither Tolkien nor Lewis had published their poems or mythic stories. The themes and ideas from The Inklings took shape within the writings of each man and made their way into the world in what are now widely popular books and movies.
Give Beth’s post(s) a good read. It’s part of the new story that many of us are inviting — multiple layers of collaboration and imagination together.
And heres to the creativity and courage for any of us with inklings.