Authenticity in the form of a Rap
I’m a big believer in being true to who you are, which is why I had to laugh at myself last week.
See, I’m a wordsmith. I write, I speak. Those are the things I do, and they’re the things I’m good at. And I love doing them.
But, a few months back, I had the opportunity to apply to be part of a special day the State Library of WA. Organised by our local SCBWI chapter (of which I’m part) the idea was that authors and illustrators would have ten minutes each to entertain an audience of kids and parents. And, in the process have fun and promote our latest books. To take part, I had to nominate what activity I would do.
Now, some part of my brain heard ‘activity’ and immediately decided it must be something kids could make. I had two books to promote – one about a boy who wants a telescope (and ends up with something much better) and the other a Christmas themed story. So, in my wisdom, I decided I could link the two by making some sort of star-themed craft. I sent through my proposal and didn’t think too much more about it.
Until the date loomed very near, and I remembered that crafts are not my strong point. Cue Sally frantically coming up with a star-themed activity: which I did. A simple threading activity. And Sally printing, cutting out and punching holes in 200 stars. And cutting 200 lengths of wool for said threading. All the while fretting that this would be a lame activity, no where near entertaining enough for a crowd of kids on a Saturday morning.
Then I remembered: I’m a wordsmith. I should have proposed something that used my talents. And saved myself quite a lot of over-thinking. So, I cheated a bit.
I took along my craft, and gave it out for kids to do in their own time – in fact, some had already done theirs before they even got into the theatre.
Then, I wrote a little Christmas rap, with a chorus which the audience could join in on.
When it was my turn I took about 30 seconds to mention the star activity, another 30 to introduce my books and then I set about teaching them the chorus (and its associated clap pattern), before I launched into my poem.
The parents and kids seemed to love it, I felt like a star (see what I did there) with the audience interacting enthusiastically, and everybody was happy.
And I felt good, because I’d been authentic. Next time I’m asked to propose an activity, hopefully I’ll remember the lesson: play to your strengths, and be authentic.
Here’s a little clip of the rap, filmed by a friend in the audience.
Actually, the star activity was not lame at all, and would have been just fine for the intended audience. But It wasn’t truly ME, which is what I aim always to be.