Communication is “a sophisticated game of hide-and-seek in which it is a joy to be hidden but a disaster not to be found.”
This quote, taken from psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, was read aloud to the mentors at Girls Write Now Mentor Training Part II during an exercise led by Eva Young, a member of GWN’s Therapy Panel. Reflecting on our role as writers and mentors, we were reminded that communication is at the heart of both.
In this exercise, we found partners, created doodles and watched our partners turn the doodles into drawings. Then we switched roles.
Like most people, I can doodle. As for drawing, I am neither talented nor skilled. Yet just as we encourage our mentees to take chances, even in genres and tasks they are not comfortable with, I plunged in with a mixture of willingness and reserve. In this “sophisticated game,” as well as in our relationship with our mentees, there is a thin line between ease and expectations, between the urgent need to communicate well and a reluctance to expose who you are.
Halfway into my first year as a mentor, my mentee and I both accept that taking risks and playing it safe are both part of the process. Though sometimes hidden, the breakthrough to honest and masterful writing will almost always be found. Writing is an act of courage, yet there is not only one “correct” way to write.
One mentor voiced that she had hoped her doodle would be turned into an abstract drawing. Instead, her partner turned it into a snail. Both liked the result. This is the moment that links partners, mentors and mentees; this snail moment. Setting aside expectations of a particular outcome often allows for a better one, which might have been hidden, to be found.