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The Idea Phenomenon

What is an idea, really? Is it merely a thought? Can one have a thought without it being generated by an idea? Can one have an idea without it being  generated hy a thought. Does look like the chicken and the egg, doesn’t it.

Ever wondered where that saying originated? Did the philosophers of old come up with it? Did Socrates or Plato ever look at a wandering chicken and try to decide which came first?

Here’s a question for you. Have you ever been thinking about something and then stop short, only to wonder how you got on that line of thought in the first place? And then, did you begin retracing your mental steps to get back to the original triggering thought? If you haven’t, try it sometimes. It’s a great exercise for writers, especially those who work on mysteries or fantasies.

Each day when I open my e-mail, I can count of someone having sent me some form of humor, many with pictures, to brighten my day. Being the dutiful friend that I am, I pass them along. Not as mere humor necessarily, you understand. I send to friends who write for the most part to give them the same problem I have with these electronic pieces of flotsam.

For each of these I many times add a comment at the top which says something like, “If you can’t get an idea for a story in this, you’re hopeless.” Now, they understand that I’m joking, of course. However, since I’m a visual thinker and images always invoke ideas of meaning and content, I figure why should I be the only one haunted throughout the day by these persistent little pics on the net.

Writers are,  after all, always in need of fresh prompts and ideas for that sweet little story for the toddlers mag or a parenting edition or Parade Magazine, whatever. The problem for many of us is that these quick little emails literally bombard us with ideas since each photo or joke can trigger multiple scenarios that could be potential winners, either funny or sombre.

So, I ask you. Which comes first. The thought while opening the e-mail is to get it done quickly because sheer curiosity will force you to do it, and then send it on, get it done, and get out. That’s the original plan of action with requisite thought applied. The reality comes when seeing the contents, which take the mind, send it on multiple journeys, and don’t let go for perhaps what seems like fifteen or twenty minutes once the thing has been opened.

Think of it as a benign Pandora’s Box. There’s plenty in there, none of it harmful really. Each pic just envelops the thoughts for a moment or two before allowing them to continue on their way. With those thoughts (if working with pics) comes mental scenarios for subsequent stories, articles, quizzes, games, puzzles, rebuses, you name it. Even books could be in the offing.

You see where this is going here. If it’s difficult to get through the mall without writing down ideas, stray snippets of conversation, etc., how well can a person do as a captive audience in front of the computer and the open e-mail? If everything around us generates so many ideas, that taste, feel, breathe like fantastic ideas that we could whip out overnight, are we doomed to forever wonder as we wander on this sea of continual stimulation?

For me, I can only write down some of the better scenarios invoked by images captured this way. I may regret for a short while not having noted them all. However, it won’t be long before those of regret are replaced by others sent by good friends.

After all this, do we have an answer? Which comes first? You decide.

So, here’ s to you, readers all. The next time you go to open one of those e-mails sent to cheer and bring a smile to your face, ask yourself first, “Where did I put that notebook?”

Claudsy

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Categories: Writing and Poetry
  1. November 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Hmmm…thought provoking. Thanks 🙂

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