Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ways of Looking at an Idea

1. It comes swooping down on you like a marauding seagull, after your last chunk of bagel and cream cheese, fully formed, backed by agenda, waiting to be taken up and dealt with. You know where this baby is going; you cannot wait to get at it; the opening sentence is already forming in your head,

2. It presents itself to you as though it were a piece of a jigsaw puzzle you found in what you thought to be an aimless walk. Now the walk has taken on the backdrop of a quest as you consider what larger picture this jigsaw piece might be, what and where the other parts are that will help you get a quick look at the goal.

3. You are in the middle of a conversation with someone when a word or phrase or clause or sentence emerges. Was it from your mouth or someone else's? Did it perhaps come from the ambient conversation around you? Time and senses have stopped now as the excitement of that word or phrase or clause or sentence is steam-driven through your channels.

4. You experience a frisson, a slip in the meshing cogs of confidence because you do not immediately see what to do with it, what format to fit it in, what closet to stash it because company is coming and you would not like to be caught with something so ungainly being out in public. As soon as you have the freedom to do so--and you force that issue quickly enough--you consult book stores, Google, blog sites, places where there are stories in seemingly impossible formats, cheering sections that energize you beyond a simple fix. If I can bring this off, you think. What a coup it will be to have brought this off.

5. I have finally cut free, arrived at a series of connected dots that is the acme of my inventive life to date. I am all alone with this. It is in many ways like the transition idea that forms just as the brain waves are switching from sleep to a waking state. Now comes the desperate lunge to grab it before it slips away.

6. You are listening to someone's idea, being given in a personable, articulate, enthusiastic way, a bright, cheery package that leaves you polar because you are pleased for the person whose idea it is and then somewhat deflated because you'd been thinking along the same directions not too long ago. If you pursue your idea at this point, you will worry about the reaction of the individual you were listening to, at which point a tinge of resentment creeps in. Now I can't pursue this idea at all because the individual who confided in me will have probable cause to suspect me of eminent domain or worse, plagiarism. Then you ask yourself the key question How can I render this as it has never been rendered? What point of view or voice or key signature or format? What theme shall I place this in counterpoint with? What new dimension shall I exploit? Then it comes, at which point you sit somewhere, laughing your thanks up at the cosmos for the challenge that has come home to roost.

7. At first you don't see it, don't even know it's there. Then, as if in confirmation, you continue not to see it. And then you are in the midst of something entirely else, or nothing, nothing at all. It finally gets through to you. At risk of slapping the butt of your palm to your forehead, you look for something to throw. Finding nothing, you settle in with a deep breath, then recognize it. What kept you so long, it asks you.

1 comment:

Kelli Anne said...

Number 7. Yes, I'm always in the middle of something else or nothing at all. Number 7. Looking forward to coffee with you.