Mar 9, 2007

“Ideas can be born anywhere, or be sired by anything, but it really helps if you’ve disciplined yourself to notice them. Of course, sometimes they just sit there like lumps, and you can walk right up and grab them by the scruff and hold your nose and bite right down, and they oblige with a shrug and then die, quietly, and are never heard from again. These tend to be filling for a few minutes, but I’m usually hungry again pretty quickly.

But the best ideas — the most nourishing — are tougher to see. They’re often the same color as the sky, or the grass or the couch or whatever they happen to be sitting on — sometimes they’re even transparent, and you have to trust your hunch and reach out and close your fingers around the air, to see if you can grab it.

Often you will find them, wriggling in your grasp, sometimes too spent to fight — and some will die right in your hands.

But others will roar back at you, suddenly springing at you with teeth bared and fangs flashing, upset at having been disturbed — these will dive into your gullet and take up residence behind your eyes and patiently gnaw away at any rivals they may find there. It is your duty to cage them, to draw them out carefully through your fingertips, and the faster you can pull on their tails the louder they will squeal and scrabble and dig their claws in and the more lively they will dance and shout and protest from whatever page you imprison them in.

These are the ideas you have to feed. You have to make sure that you attend to them and nourish them and keep them lively and bright, their scales shiny and their muscles taut, for these are the ideas that will keep you fed and satisfied and healthy for years. These are the pack leaders, that will draw others to try and free them. There is nothing more satisfying than lying quietly in wait with a sharp stick, prodding the caged beast so that it cries out — and then quickly and precisely plucking from the air all the others that come to its rescue.

So if you feel starved for ideas, it’s never that they’re not there — you simply haven’t trained yourself to identify them. Any time you see a flash of movement out of the corner of your eye, or notice a shadow flicker in and out of view in a blink — you should reach out and grab it, close your fingers around its neck, and rip a bleeding chunk from its flesh.

And even if it was nothing, even if it was just a trick of the light this time — well, the worst that happens is you look like an idiot.”
-- David Malki!