Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 IdeaFestival: Nothing At All

What did I get out of the IdeaFestival?

Permission to think? To create? To hang out with a bunch of people who are a whole lot smarter than I am, and don’t bother to act like it? IF was all of that, and lots of other things. It is hard to articulate what this mind-elevating event meant to me, what graduate-level information I learned there, and what difference it will make to me over the years. As promised in the title of the event, it really wasn’t about things at all:

What I did take away from the program was something I already had: Permission to fail. “To increase your rate of success, double your rate of failure” was a mantra that came up again and again. Think of it. Try it. Try it again. If you’re passionate about an idea, keep at it. “The better the idea,” we were told, “The harder it is to shove down people’s throats.” Now, happily, I have permission to fail even more.

One group of ‘things’ that I noticed at this year’s IF were the books. Stacks of them. As it turned out, most of the speakers were simply presenting what they had already written in their books. For these people, the path from idea to recognition usually involved a process of organization that led to a published story. Their books became the vehicle for publicizing their ideas, and for opening up new venues to spread their world-changing messages.

I draw pictures, and from time to time I even write stories. But this year’s IF challenged me to see if I really have anything to say to a larger audience – and if I do, to find a way to present that message in a publishable form. It’s an idea worth thinking about, anyway.


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