Eps 65: The Myth of the “Lone Genius” – CS Lewis expert Dr Diana Glyer

“The Inklings” were a group of authors who met together, up to twice a week, for 17 years and included the likes of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.  Without the rigorous, encouraging, and collaborative nature of this group, great works like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia might not have made it to final form.

Dr Diana Glyer’s scholarly work into The Inklings took her over 20 years to compile and craft into her dissertation published asThe Company They Keep. Her scholarship altered the prevailing notion about the group and how it functioned. Her more recent general-audience book, based on that scholarship, called Bandersnatch includes the most interesting stories about CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien’s friendship and explains how we can learn from the way the Inklings worked together. Today we talk about how we can apply that wisdom into our own creative endeavors and collaborations.

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Dr Diana Glyer


MIN 1:30

Diana’s first introduction into the world of Tolkien.


Wondering what the conversations of Lewis and Tolkien were like and how they influenced each other.

[ictt-tweet-inline via=”dianaglyer”]Our conversations become the spark for creative breakthrough.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

(That’s a cool quote from Diana and you can Tweet it just by clicking it. It’s like Elfin magic!)


No one had researched and written about their relationship of collaboration and influence from the inside–like a fly on the wall.


How we think about literary influence and collaboration. Process influence versus product influence.

The role of creative input and question-asking during the initial period of creative inspiration.

MIN 7:30

Looking at dairies and primary documents and drafts and the detective work of Diana’s book “The Company They Keep”.


Some examples of how Lewis and Tolkien made changes in their work because of the input of the Inklings writers group.


The myth of tortured artists and creative luminaries and how excellent creative work really happens (nearly always) by the people we admire most.


Having conversations and interactions about our creative work.

For creative geniuses and highly productive artists throughout the centuries it is NORMAL to be collaborative and interactive during the creative process.

[ictt-tweet-inline via=”dianaglyer”]The Hollywood construct of lone creative genius is highly abnormal and unhealthy.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

(That’s another cool quote from Diana and you can Tweet it just by clicking it.)


How Bandersnatch got written.


What do you do if you’re scared that your work stinks?

Inviting a bigger look at what collaboration means.

Involving others into every stage of the creative process.


Guidelines for critique:

First, know what you are looking for then…

Remember 2 things:

1. A good critique should not end up being discouraging but make you excited to go back and work on it and restless until you do.

2. Ask specifically what you need. Example (Is there too much description? Is it too wordy? Is it too formal? Is pacing okay?)

CS Lewis sent his work to friends with a note, “Is this worth working on some more? Or am I on a dead end?” The Chronicles of Narnia was almost never written because he was discouraged.

MIN 26:00

The huge importance of encouragement.

Be courageous in sharing our messy unfinished work.

MIN 27:30

The Company They Keep

Bandersnatch will be available in Fall 2016 as an Audio Book


AUTHOR page: dianaglyer.com

(FACEBOOK page) Bandersnatchbook

BOOK PAGE: bandersnatchbook.com

• CS Lewis wikipedia page

• CS Lewis Foundation

• JRR Tolkien society website

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