My Preemie Daughter Taught Me to Keep Ideas Sacred

7 Keeping Your Ideas Sacred


Ideas start off as gut feelings and flashbulb moments. They start unformed, barely visible flickers. Like premature babies, they need incubation and respirators to survive.


Twenty four years my daughter Laurel was born 3 months premature .

Born 890- grams this flicker of an idea was born at St. Joe’s Hospital in London Ontario.


She was so small she fit in the palm of my hand, and we didn’t expect her to survive.


But she came early and our job was to do everything we could to  protect and help her thrive.


It is the same with new ideas.


They need to be held in sacred hands. They need incubation. They need good wishes and time to be able to learn to breathe on their own.


Because like premature babies, ideas come with a share of doubt. Doubt if  they will make it.


Laurel not perfectly formed so showing her off to people who would nay say,  worry or prescribe the wrong solutions were not helpful. Some folks sent  get well cards instead of congratulation cards. I needed to surrounded by folks with faith in her process.


I had a hard enough time battling my own doubt let alone theirs.




After amazing people showed up to help, Laurel was sent home from the hospital, I began writing my very first full length play at the Tarragon Playwright’s Unit. Every week we met and my work was nurtured and fed.


Half way through the year, the theatre said they wanted to present my play at a public reading.


So how it worked was, I wrote all morning and in the afternoon handed scripts to actors and they read over my rewrites and then that night we read in front of an audience. Audiences were told this was only a reading, that  the process was for the writer not the audience. But some people ( usually the most vocal) focused on the wrong accent of the actress or her inappropriate yoga pants.


The  feedback was not only unhelpful, it was it took me today’s to get over.


(Just to be fair if I had gone to their place of work and given feedback on a project of theirs, I would’ve been equally inept.)


(Just to be fair if I had gone to their place of work and given feedback on a project of theirs, I would’ve been equally inept.)


I learned from that experience that I needed to share my sacred ideas with folks who were talking about. Folks who understood the writing process. Folks who would listen NOT prescribe solutions. Who would hold the idea in the palm of their hand while I sucked my thumb in the corner.


So must you.

Yes feedback is needed but feedback given too early, by well meaning spouses and parents, will cause you to shy away from the heat of the idea.

Feedback given too early will have you outthink and remove the most original part of the concept.

Even  thumbs -up feedback, too early on ,will cause you to start playing to the compliment.

New ideas are about gut feelings, intuitive and mysterious processes.

Laurel had a year of false starts until we could breathe deeply and say she was fine. My play took about the same time.

 Both were held sacred until they could walk out into the world on their own.

a little wit, a little wisdom, a whole lot of lving.


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