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How About YOU Write That Thing You Just Said

February 17, 2010

Sometimes I do run out of ideas. The state of not-having-ideas is temporary, and when it passes I feel refreshed and ready to write again. It’s nothing to worry about (except when it IS, oh my GOD I’ll never write again, I’m going to go drink Drano and overdose on aspirin, the pain, the pain).

Histrionics aside, I do not need “help” from other people in the form of THEIR ideas. It’s cool if you want to sit down and help me brainstorm or talk me through the block (a lot of the time sitting down and talking through what is or isn’t in my head is really helpful). But I don’t need “Hey! Why don’t you write about this random news story I read the other day, the details of which I don’t recall exactly, but there were pigs, or maybe they were cows, and a farmer and something about Saudi Arabia. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea for a story?”

First of all, legal issues. I know that it’s unlikely that my family members are going to sue me over intellectual property rights (although you never know, some of my family members are…not as trustworthy as others. No names. They can’t attack me if there are no names.) In general, I have been trained not to take other people’s ideas. It’s just not done. I feel even stranger about it when someone says, “Take my idea…please!”  It’s like the aliens from Mars Attacks! running around shooting people while the translator in their possession continues to translate their Martian gibberish into “Don’t run, we are your friends. Don’t run, we are your friends.” Your idea = your idea. I don’t want to take it. It’s a Martian with a gun.

Second of all, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If you don’t make the suggestion about the cow-pigs in Saudi Arabia I don’t have to tell you that I hate your idea. Ok, maybe I don’t hate it, but it just doesn’t interest me. But since some folks DO try to help by making these types of suggestions, I nod and smile. “Wow, yeah, ok. That’s really interesting. Maybe I’ll get around to it sometime.” I think even this lie is too transparent…but what else can I say? “Stop giving me bad ideas, you retard!” I think that might be more hurtful…

Last, if it interests YOU, you should write about it (the you in this post being, of course, “one.” I’m not actually addressing anyone, I’m just getting myself into pronoun trouble.) I don’t think that just anyone can write, but I do think that most halfway intelligent people should try it at least once. If “you” have an idea that excites and interests you, that’s the best time to go for it. Don’t make me do it for you. At least if you write your own story, you can’t blame me when it turns out badly.

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