Friday, 20 November 2009


Some people say that they don't write because they don't know what to write. Quite often, they call it writer's block, which makes it sound official and excusable. I don't think I've ever experienced that. I think I have the opposite problem: I have too many ideas and spend so long trying to choose one to write about that I don't get to the actual writing. Unfortunately, I can't call this writer's block. (If I sound kind of sceptical about writer's block, I am, although not entirely. But that's another post, which is precisely where I'm not supposed to be going.)

Now, it's possible that the way Terry Pratchett describes ideas in Discworld works out on Roundworld too. An idea seems to be a kind of subatomic particle - and certain people attract ideas far more than others. That seems to fit the observational evidence, but it lacks a certain scientific rigour.

I think that lots of ideas are a result of learning that 'why?' is a good question to ask. I think there may be a fair amount of luck involved in being taught this, or figuring it out for oneself, but it's something anyone can do. Very often, life is about being practical, to the detriment of being wonderful (in the most literal sense). We learn facts for exams, rather than understanding concepts, because we only need to pass. We do things because people expect us to, without stopping to think about why. We follow routines that get us through the day, even when we forget the meaning behind them.

Those things aren't altogether bad. In their own places, they're useful. The problem comes when they take over the child who says, 'Daddy, why?' If the child doesn't stop asking, then Daddy is awesome.

Why is the sky blue?
Why is the earth round?
Why do I have to tidy my room?
Why does it rain?
Why is the moon not made from green cheese?
Why is Shakespeare famous?
Why is it bad to put magnets in the computer?
Why do people smoke?
Why are flowers pretty?

There's so much that we only begin to answer in high school, or towards the end of prep. school. Some things we don't even answer then. The sad thing is that there's nothing on the list that a five-year-old can't at least begin to understand. We so often squash the 'why's.

But if we don't, or if we unsquash them, there are hundreds and thousands and googolplexes of ideas just waiting to be found.

Because did you know, the moon used to be green cheese, but it was petrified due to the pressure of empty space? So actually, the moon is a green cheese fossil. Clearly, it was a Swiss green cheese. How else did the craters get there?

1 comment:

  1. Too many ideas as opposed to not enough. Your psychology of abundance is infectious. :)