and even if she didn’t
she’d be happy
I had one.
from: Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
by: Shari Green
Pajama Press, Inc., 2017
2018 winner: Schneider Family Book Award
(“…honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”—ALA)
Where do ideas come from? It’s a question I’m often asked and one I regularly ask myself.
Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash’s daughter, thinks ideas are living entities. She quoted her friend Steven Pressfield in a 2014 interview with Krista Tippett on NPR's show On Being: https://onbeing.org/programs/rosanne-cash-time-traveler/
Roseanne says Pressfield “wrote a great book called The War of Art, and he has this great line in it. He says, ‘You have to show the
Muse you're serious.’" She goes on to say that if your Muse knows you’re serious, she will send you ideas.
I think she’s onto something.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic is inspirational. She describes an idea as a living being, a life-form of its own. She says ideas are out there looking for someone to give them substance. The form can be art, music, literature, or poetry, but the idea looks for the person. I think she’s also onto something. The idea can be straight-forward, complicated, profound, or unexpectedly universal. You can watch Elizabeth's interview with Krista Tippet here: https://onbeing.org/programs/elizabeth-gilbert-choosing-curiosity-over-fear/
If Roseanne and Elizabeth are right (and most of the time I suspect they are) allowing an idea to find you takes a person with willing awareness. The awareness to see an idea in the first place and the willingness to entertain it.
A third component, bravery, is probably the most important of all. Acting on an idea, giving it substance is the point on which all ideas pivot. Ideas are the instruments of change, after all.
When I’m at my best, I like to think of myself as a person with willing awareness. If I keep my mind, my heart, my ears, and my eyes open, I’ll find those ideas floating around looking for me in many places:
the news, mostly NPR
frozen moments, a writer I know says to mine these from your childhood memories
overheard stories/conversations, and ones I participate in, too
kids’ comments, mine and not mine (the kids, not the comments!)
books and magazines
dreams, on those few occasions when I remember them.
Much ends up here in this blog.
I keep paper handy so I can remember the ones I hope will be good ones. Not all of them are. Some are pesky. Some nag. A few come to life.
Mom used to say, “Keep your eyes peeled.”
Gram used to say, “Put your eyes in your hands and look.”
Other people say, “You find what you expect to find.”
They’re all right. Roseanne and Elizabeth, too. Some people are better at spotting ideas than others. Some people are better at receiving them. I expect ideas are out there. We look for each other and when we find each other, life gets more interesting.
Even the idea for *this* idea must have been out there looking for me. I’ve heard it before, but this time I listened, and acted.