Any creative knows there are a hundred, a thousand, a million ideas crashing around and uncountable masses of them careen through your mind at blinding speeds. Ideas as old as time, stories you’ve heard, songs you’ve sung, paintings you’ve seen, movies you’ve cried at, jokes that have split your sides, terrors in the night, memories of bygone years, photos you’ve framed, articles perused, legends half-remembered... every single thing that’s ever been created is around you always. And their journeys collide into each other and mist through you with delicious potential. Shiver-shaking new buds from old boughs. Any creative knows that ideas are a furious whitewater of roiling maybes always on the brink of dragging you under but the ride is too gloriously exhilarating to fear.
While most of these millions of ideas continue on their blazing path through the cosmos unaffected by the breath of time spent passing through your brain, a comparatively small number lodge inside and take root. And of those an even more comparative few become something fruitful. Which is to say, they achieve tangible reality. A story that gets written or a painting that gets finished or a song that gets performed and so on. But by definition that means there are a relative number of intangible ideas that took root but never achieved reality still lodged in your brain. Ideas that didn’t pass on into oblivion but that weren’t strong enough or viable enough or insistent enough, whatever the reason may be, to make their way through your process into actuality. These ideas, the ones in limbo, are the ones I consider to be residing in the idea graveyard.
By now, as the years inexorably unwind, an untold number of them are buried in my personal idea graveyard. It’s hard to say whether any will be exhumed and turned into something real or whether they’ll stay interred and just haunt me like spirits with unfinished business. So many new ideas bombard me at every moment that it seems more likely the graveyard will just expand exponentially. It’s something that plagues me. Some of the ideas might actually be viable, you see, but I may never develop them. Should I continue to hoard them? See, this is where the intersections of plagiarism and inspiration collide. If I were to write down the idea and claim it as my own, stealing it from me verbatim would be plagiarism. But if I were to write down the idea and offer it up to somebody else to utilize, it would become inspiration. Am I writing this entire article to taunt you with the plagiarism? Or am I offering you nuggets that might become gold veins of wealth?
The latter. I have dug up five ideas from my graveyard that I am no longer counting as my own. Instead I’m offering them up here, to you, to anyone, to the cosmos and asking that you be inspired by one of them. Adopt it and make it your own. Tell the story I failed to tell when the idea first took root in my consciousness. But first let me say this: they’re not all good. Five ideas. Five possibilities. Not all five are gems. You have to accept that some diamonds are in the rough and some are actually plaster. Which is which is entirely up to you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.
1. Combine 80s soldiers of fortune show ‘The A-Team’ with 80s cop show ‘Hunter’ in the penultimate Stephen J. Cannell showdown wherein Colonel Decker would be relieved of his repetitive duty of catching and releasing the A-Team in favor of Hunter having a go at it and this time it would work because Hunter shot first and captured later and if he missed McCall was pretty hot (all things 80s considered) so Face would at least have always been in custody. It would have been a short-lived but amazing thing. Perhaps a mini-series or even a movie.
2. Pitch: an Ocean’s 11 style caper set on Mars. This one kind of writes itself, no? Honestly if nobody writes this I may have to return to it. George Clooney, call me... just... yes, also for the idea.
3. I had a dream once where every creature on a certain world was the color of its environment. Sea creatures were translucent blue, sky creatures were gold-flecked purple (the sky was purple with gold clouds there), forest creatures were brown and black and dappled. That’s it, I know nothing more about the world but that everything camouflaged into it.
4. A werewolf suffering from lupophobia. Lupophobia being the unofficial definition of the fear of wolves. I suppose that would really be a sort of Jekyll/Hyde exploration of the human experience; examining what it means to fear a part of oneself or to become the thing that you fear, etc. It would make a compelling short story or novel and I hope Nathan or Roger seizes this idea because I’d love to read it. I just don’t want to write it.
5. A tactile viewscreen. That’s it, a single sentence idea. I later had a dream that involved this idea and the dream involved me being on the starship Enterprise. I was some sort of intergalactic omnipotent creature, like Q but with much better fashion sense, and I turned the Enterprise viewscreen into a tactile one. Nobody knew what that meant and in my dream there was no pseduo-scientific techno-babble to explain it because my dreams never involve logic but it played out in that nothing could ever be displayed on the screen. Every time Picard said “onscreen” nothing would happen until one of them touched it. And then it would sway and blob inwards and outwards like a giant jellyfish or a lava lamp until it took the form of whatever it was Picard wanted to see. And then they’d have to ‘paint’ it with intentions which, in the dream, involved a lot of Counselor Troi mood ring “I sense deception” and “the pain, so much paaaaain” proclamations that they’d use to turn the morphing sculpture into something that resonated with both color and emotion. It was an absolutely insane dream and I have no idea if that’s how a tactile viewscreen would actually function but there you go. That’s as much explanation as my subconscious could give the idea and this is as far as my writing has ever taken it. I challenge somebody else to develop it properly. Alan?
It will be a thing of great beauty to see any of these ideas breathed into existence by somebody. (Especially the Oceans 11 on Mars. Seriously, Hollywood, make this.)
The idea graveyard is something we all have inside us. Not every idea that dies needs to be resurrected but some deserve another shot at immortality. Some ideas simply got lodged in our brains en route to somebody else’s, I think. Ideas can’t truly be owned, not really, not until they’re put to use and made real anyway. So look inside and see if there aren’t one or two ideas you really want to see brought to life that you know you’ll never work on yourself. And then just... let them go.
- Corinne Simpson