Casting Around for Ideas

September 30, 2015

Rocks in a bowl

Rocks in a bowl

“I had to learn that finding an idea is a job.  If you’re going to do creative work, you have to invent a system to find ideas to make the work about.  That is a job in itself.

And where do ideas come from?  They come from other ideas.  And you have to surround yourself with things that are interesting to you and notice what’s exciting to you . . .

You cannot tell where things will lead.”
— Ira Glass, from Way More Than Luck:  Commencement Speeches on Living with Bravery, Empathy, and Other Existential Skills

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am casting about for ideas for my next project.  I am looking for something meaty that I can delve into for a period of time, something a bit challenging, something engrossing, something that I might learn from.  I have several ideas floating around, and I’ve decided that I need to be a bit more rigorous in capturing them for more serious consideration.  So I’ve decided to keep a special idea notebook to write these fleeting ideas down.  Maybe that will help me feel less scattered.

In the meantime, I have not given up on my Armchair America travels through books, and I hope to resume the series in November as I prepare for a week’s vacation in New Orleans.  So I will soon be reading books by Louisiana writers or books that take place in Louisiana.  (Let me know if you have any recommendations.)



National Poetry Month.5

Nearing sunset, Golden Gardens

“When ideas do come, they are, at least in my case, rather tiny.  They are not thunderbolts, but glimmers.”
— David Travis, At the Edge of the Light:  Thoughts on Photography & Photographers, on Talent & Genius

I like the notion of creative ideas starting small for that means ideas are accessible to even me.  But it also means being tuned to their frequencies so that when they appear on the wing, I can recognize, capture and make something of them.  How to listen for that still, small voice.  For me, that takes solitude and attentiveness and discernment.

“You do not need to leave your room.  Remain sitting at your table and listen.  Do not even listen, simply wait.  Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.  The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
— Franz Kafka

Creative ideas need to be protected and sheltered at this embryonic stage.  They can be fragile and so easily set aside to languish or die.  I like what poet Donald Hall says about keeping young ideas and drafts held close to the vest:  “When a poem, any work, is private to me, its spirit and possibilities are limitless.  Once I show it to anyone . . . somebody else’s spirit, psyche, tone of voice, has entered that poem. . . . This holding back is essential to me.”
— Donald Hall, “An Interview with Marian Blue,” AWP Chronicle, May/Summer 1995