11 Jun

Where those ideas come from

Where do those ideas come from (a handout):

  • They slither out of the sticky sweet fog at the margins of sleep to hiss snake songs in your ears and flick at your eyes
  • They creep like blackberry brambles, sharp and clutching, the fruit not always ripe
  • They wait outside the commuter train window for you to pass–a heron poised to strike in the runoff marsh, a thick uprooted tree with one craggly branch reaching over the fence to the highway, a guy in rags shambling along the tracks and swinging his green shopping bag around his head ready for takeoff
  • They are geese. Canada geese. They honk, they flock, pair up, inspire us with their unity, then fly south to the marshes where hunters wait shivering up to their bellies in reed blinds
  • They’re boogers–if you have a bunch, you can’t stop pickin’ at them
  • They can be purchased for a buck a jar from a old troll who lives across the river in a grand house dug into the slopes of an extinct volcano
  • They hide in the husks of anise seeds, exploding when you crunch down
  • They’re honeybees. Picture that sweet nectar gathering action
  • They’re paper wasps, whose accretions have made the page you’re reading
  • They’re pranksters, sticking out their tiny legs just as you pass the corner
  • They’re eyeflash miracles, flaring when you squeeze your eyes shut and vanishing as soon as someone makes you look
  • They’re semen–you have to spend thousands, millions, to fertilize one good story
  • They are not other people’s ideas. Except for the traitorous, One Ring kind, ideas tend to stick to their owners, no matter how much owners try to shake them off (see boogers)

When someone asks, “Where do you get your ideas?” they really mean, “Where do you get your implementations?” They just don’t know how to ask. And the answer, well, is sort of boring. So keep the mystery alive–when asked, make stuff up. It’s sort of expected.

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