producing an idea, a methodology in action
I didn't knock . The door was open. I stuck my head in to announce breakfast.
Coursin was sitting on the bed, still not dressed, his fists in his thick hair, his face set in fearful grimace.
This is not what I thought a sane man should be doing at seven o'clock of a Tuesday morning in the middle of February, so I said, "Coursin, what's wrong ?"
He took a deep breath, wrenched his neck towards me, glared and shut his eyes tightly.
I then withdrew, I knew what was wrong, He was struggling with an idea. Again! This time he had finally caught one. He was reeling it in!
I only tell you this to show you that I am not completely unaware of some of the agonies that writers undergo, that I've seen a few of them.
And it was certainly not up to the maid at that time to intrude real coffee and real eggs nor to intrude a real mother fixing real toast down- stairs in the kitchen. So I didn't and saved a truly great idea.
But it's only recently though that I've been overtaken by any curiosity as to how writers go about running down these ideas that they hanker after so desperately. Lately I've begun to wonder. How can they tell where the fish are biting, which trail the caribou are using, which of a thousand rag-bags to look in, how to tell if this is a path that will bye and bye diverge in a yellow wood....
It's very intriguing., myself I've always thought about thought, never about ideas, I have my own way of approaching ideas. For I suppose a mere thought is nothing as grandiose as an idea. And if ever in my life I got an idea I would know it.
At least Coursin said so, once he was between ideas and we were sitting in the kitchen drinking beer and trying to keep Trixie quiet, she used to yammer and scream and whine and nip at my heels every time the old lady stepped out of the house for five minutes and when she was gone for a whole hour it was frightful.
I asked him then, for I had just had a splendid thought that I had kept in cold storage for a whole week, whether a thought was as good as an idea or if they were the same thing, and he said no indeed, not even kissing cousins. Of course, since then I've had cause once or twice to doubt Coursin and anything he ever said and I don't let him say anything to me nowadays.
Back to my own thoughts though. When I'm dealing with them, I think entirely of shooting them down.... I'm very aggressive when it comes to shooting down thoughts . You see, I don't want them alive, it wouldn't suit my purpose at all. I like them all laid about there dead. I want them good and dead, too. So they won't bite me while I'm writing about them. I've had a nasty surprise or two like that, and I'll tell you, I don't like it.
I suppose you don't hunt for ideas though or shoot them down like thoughts, or use bee-bees.
As to emotions, I feel it can be profitable for me to look in somewhat unsavory places, rag- bags, and I 've found a few scraps there from time to time that weren't bad at all.. They are like trash bins behind peoples houses, now there's a place were you can find real treasure troves of value. And I truly loved all the miscellany I found in both places.
But I can't say all that scouring around produced any IDEAS. A smudge or two on my nose, who knows, and a bunch of stuff piled up in the middle of my living room floor, and dirty hands, that's about all.
Also, what is an idea? The way a writer uses it in this sense: "I finally got an idea for my story." What did he get? A story? Or an idea?
Is it a story that exists in some way now but it's not written down yet, but it will be if he can keep it alive long enough. Or is it some kind of a plot he's come up with, a plan or strategy, or maybe a new form of questioner and he will fill it in later and then there will be a story? Or is it a thread he found on the carpet and it's going somewhere, and he's going with it?
Yes there are a good many perplexing things that nag at you the very moment you dream of becoming a writer. That's why I'm not a writer so far, for I don't like to be nagged at, also I don't like fishing, but then I do dearly love shooting down those thoughts.
What if I got myself a little heavier ammunition, I might shoot down an IDEA. Maybe there's one flying about up there mixed in with my thoughts just waiting for me to bring it down, or is an idea as Coursin says strictly big game, like elephants?
Well, I'll tell you one thing, that was a ten-thousand dollar idea Coursin was pulling out of his hair that morning, and it makes me grow pale to think it might have got away.... I- Love- WHITE-DIP-SOAP CHIPS- BECAUSE .... twenty-five words or less, two less to be exact....
We stopped eating beans immediately, and went to Miami Beach for three weeks, he and me and his brother, makes three, and his brothers girlfriend, and his mother and his mother's Chihuahua. There had never been anything like this in Coursin's life before, nor mine and never would be again..
So much for the power of an idea. Do you think a mere thought could do that?