by Mike Cooper | August 1, 2023
Photo by S. Wild/Dolphin Innovation Project
The bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay of Western Australia chase fish into the empty shells of giant sea snails, bring the shells to the surface, and shake the fish into their mouths—the way we’d finish off the crumbs in the bottom of a bag of chips. And it’s not just one of them, it’s all of them.
Dolphins, like humans, are collaborative and cooperative. It’s how we not only survive, but learn and grow and evolve. One dolphin, let’s call them Terry, apparently came upon this tactic, and pretty soon everybody was doing it, and likely they improved upon the method as a group. Hey, try this. Check it out.
If you’re reading this, you’re not only a human, but you’re also probably a writer (even if you don’t admit it): one of those people for whom writing fills a void, provides a spark, or helps you to understand all of this. And hopefully you are fortunate enough to have the time and the wherewithal to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), even if it’s in the wee hours of the morning before the chickens wake up or late at night long after the cows have gone to bed. Not all of us are writers, which is not to imply that you are any better or worse than anyone else; it just happens to be your way.
There have been lots of writers, from the first of us to draw in the dirt to those who were forced to write in secret or under a different name to all the greats who have filled all our libraries and the internet itself. We have learned from each other. We have grown and evolved.
You can write alone—most of us do. You can fill journals or computer memory with millions of words. You can fill your void, find that spark, figure all of this out. And you can do it entirely on your own. But you might never figure out how to chase a fish into a snail shell for an easy dinner.
That’s where writing groups and classes and writing programs and writing buddies come in. Other writers help us with additional skills, feedback, perspective, ideas, motivation, accountability, encouragement, refinement, process, and accountability. Yes, I said accountability twice. So check out a writing program like The Forge. Go to classes at your library. Find online classes or readings or lectures. Join a Writers Guild. Find a buddy who likes to write. Find a bunch of buddies and make a writing group. And, even if you’re a groundbreaking innovator like Terry the dolphin, you can always learn and grow and evolve. You’ll be glad you did.