Idea Party

Posted on 08 January 2013

My thinking is there’s no such thing as a bad idea for a story. Or perhaps what I mean is every idea for a story is bad until you make it good. Any time I’ve written anything good I’ve spent the vast majority of the composition process convinced it was an utter stinker. And they were stinkers, until they weren’t, at which point they were done. The only way to get from one to the other is work.
Claire Vaye Watkins

Let’s open my spreadsheet called “Writing Ideas” to find: sixteen ideas in the Short Story column, fourteen in the Essays column, five in the Articles column, and three in the Misc. column. A moment of silence, please, for the many additional ideas I never wrote down. Let’s trust that these phantoms will float back when I’m sitting at my writing desk. When I have the time. When I get around to it. When I decide to be myself.

Let’s go to a party and tell strangers about the books we plan to write, about all our ideas that will surely add up to something once we find the time to sit down and write them. Because time is all it takes, right? And let’s describe our glowing imaginary plots in great detail, and then let’s drink pomegranate martinis and spill a little on the floor and recount just how much we will have fulfilled our potential when these stories are actually written.

Let’s find the type of person whose gaze will shift to the back wall while we describe the work we have not yet begun. Let’s stand before this person in our shiny shoes and explain all the great things we’re going to do, all those words we are going to write. At this party, our work exists only in the future, which means it is perfect, which means as long as we never put in the work we will never, ever disappoint ourselves.

Where do your ideas go?

Photo: fortune cookie


4 responses to Idea Party

  • Sarah W says:

    From now on, they’re going in my notebook, instead of the back of the nearest envelope! Great idea (pun intended)!

    Can I come to your party? I love pomegranate. And ideas.

  • Averil says:

    Mine go onto any flat surface, including sometimes my own skin. Those are the best ideas, I find, because they are the most desperate and clingy. Sometimes I think I’d tattoo them if I could.

    I love this post.

    • Years ago, I had this cheap digital recorder and I recorded a few ideas while driving. I listened to part of it once but felt spooked by my own voice. I’m not entirely sure where that recorder is right now, which makes me a little nervous because until I find it, I can’t delete those silly files. But at least I learned audio is not for me — I need the page or the screen.

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