Ideas, the not having of.

I’ve got all the things a writer needs. Word processor, books lying open around me with their spines facing heaven, whiskey on the rocks. The only thing I don’t have is ideas. You need an idea to write. You need a spark of something, an inspiration of some kind. We’re reading Raymond Carver for techniques this week. Writers like to shit on Carver, but we’ve all had our Carver stage at some point, and if we haven’t, we probably should. I have certain beliefs about humanity. I believe that humans are inclined to laziness, for example. Yes, I’m aware some important philosopher said that first, I’m just saying I believe it, Christ.

The thing about Carver’s stories is that they’re easy to read. I had this recent idea that I want my prose to be as easy to read as watching television, but also profound. That’s all. Easy and profound. I have an imagined audience, and they’re drunk and stoned, because my audience understands that life is very painful. Drunk and stoned people read occasionally. Not as often as they’d like, certainly, but sometimes the TV has been buzzing for so long it makes their eyes bleed, and they can feel their brain start to atrophy, and it’s times like this I want the beleaguered drunk to pick up one of my stories from their bedside table, light as air, and I want them to understand it. I might have the wrong idea.

I would follow up this paragraph with my Carver imitation but I haven’t written it, because I don’t have any ideas. Just whiskey on the rocks, books lying open around me with their spines facing heaven, and a word processor. Is the implication that that’s all I have? I remember this children’s book starring a spider, and anytime the story required him to have something, it would just be there in his web. I remember the spider had a suitcase and a chair, and I remember my little mind thinking “but really, that’s all you need.” How could I have been so dumb? What would you put inside the suitcase? I think later I thought about it again, and concluded that not only do you not need a suitcase or a chair, you don’t need anything. Not really.

I don’t need ideas. I can just write about not having any ideas, and voila. By now the rocks in my whiskey have turned to water. I feel like this should mean something. I’m considering putting the glass of whiskey in the suitcase, and how it would leak out all over everything and maybe a protagonist would change somehow because of the experience, but I don’t think that idea has any legs. It’s an amputee, that idea. I’m going to bed.

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