Recently, on the way to my day job, I remembered a film script idea that I had about 10 years ago. I went digging for that old idea in my files and couldn’t find it. I am sure I left it in the past for a reason and shouldn’t be too concerned by the loss. Good or bad, though, I would still like to see it again.
It’s funny how a creative idea that was never realized always feels precious like a rough gem. It could have been the worst idea in the world but as a fledgling bad idea it always has the potential to be magnificent. Funny, still, how I feel more attached towards ideas from my past than people from my past. Perhaps this is because people are not within my control, whereas an idea is — or should be – can be? If nothing comes of my idea, I am the only one to blame. I am that idea’s only hope. Nobody would have that idea quite like me. Certainly, nobody would love my idea quite like me.
Funny on funny. Because, again, if I had developed those ideas into the ugly monstrosities that usually occur when I develop script or novel ideas then that preciousness would be lost.
I did a major purge of creative files a few years ago mainly because I was advised that it was a very healthy thing to do for writers. This purge promised to help me to:
- Let go of the past that is keeping me from experiencing the present or having any mind for the future.
- If I have been dogging on a story for years and not getting anywhere, remember that I am mortal; my time here is finite.
- Realize that an idea that is 10 years old or older probably has little relevance to me now or would need to be turned into a new idea to suit who I am as a writer.
- Consider that since I probably have at least a few creative ideas a year — if all of my undeveloped ideas continued to follow after me, year after year, like tin cans attached to my waist with strings – I’d make such a royal din everywhere I went.
- Accept that some ideas are just bad and deserve to be put to rest. I don’t know if I can ever believe this statement. After all, aren’t I the bad one if I can’t make something out of one of my brilliant ideas?
**Important Note: I’m only talking about literary ideas. An idea such as doing your own amateur household electrical or medical surgery. No. Don’t do it.
I think the lesson learned is that if I should have a good literary idea then I should develop it immediately. Embrace the sucking, as They say, and just do it — so it doesn’t follow after me for years and I don’t suffer the regret of needing to purge them. I bet some sort of angel or spirit weeps every time an idea dies before it’s even given a chance.
Ultimately, there is wisdom to this funny business. Whenever I have tried to develop a creative concept into a novel or script it has grown into a hairy kind of Frankenstein with lots of heads, arms and legs and eventually feels beyond my control to develop any further.
I do believe, though have not yet proven, that I must persevere long enough to see the beauty in the ugly reality of my idea. That’s life, isn’t it? An idea is an ideal. The ideal is perfection. Longer creative pieces will never turn out the way I had it in mind. The writer and the story develop together and the reality will always come out differently. The reality is where I will learn and test the truth about me, my story and my perspective on this life. Time is a factor as well. The act of stretching out an idea through linear time, page after page, scene after scene — it does stuff to an idea. It applies maddening and rigid logic to the abstract.
Obviously, if my storytelling craft adhered to a popular formula or template the work and product would be different. Ideas, I imagine, would have a clearer and smaller path to follow to completion. Kudos to writers who can successfully write longer creative pieces within a template. My monsters have always managed to escape such prisons.
And those are the few times when I have actually been very proud of my monstrosities.