Recently, when I was on The Charlie Rose show, Charlie Rose asked me, "Where do you get your ideas?" "Well, Charlie," I replied after sipping from my water glass (Evian), "I get my ideas from the idea farm." Charlie Rose crossed his fingers and nodded, happy that I was letting him in on this writerly secret. For once, he did not take his usual 25 minutes to ask a question that had more ums, ahs, and pedantic pauses than actual words, so I took the opportunity to tell him what I will tell you now:
The idea farm is a lovely place. Ideas roam freely, soaking in the sun during the day, and cuddled in warm fuzzy blankets at night. Ideas are social creatures, so they hang out with other ideas a lot. They are furry. However, if you rub them enough, they lose their fur and gleam with a shiny polish. Polished ideas are the best because they are sharp and succinct. They also make great soup.
As every serious writer knows, furry ideas aren't very helpful. They may be cute, but because they tend to be goopy and disastrously covered in dangling modifiers and ill-advised prepositions, they rarely achieve their function--which is, of course, to be clear. A furry idea is really just a fancy name for "mud puddle." This may be fine if you're an indie band that only knows three chords, but for those of us changing the world, we need clarity.
There's an unfortunate moral conundrum here, though, because--is it right to raise and cultivate ideas, only to defuzz them? If an idea is naturally fuzzy, who are we to polish it? If we have good intentions--such as changing the world with our well-polished ideas that will surely make the world better because we know what's best for the world--does that justify our actions?
I discussed these issues at length with Charlie Rose and in the midst of one of his thoughtful stares at the side of my head, I interrupted him to say, "Usually, I just make soup out of them."
"You make soup out of your ideas?" he said.
"Yes. Usually vegetable soup, though lately I've been having difficulty digesting broccoli, so mostly I use corn, potatoes, occassionally carrots, and well-polished ideas."
Charlie Rose was impressed with this. He's producing a cooking show for the Oxygen Network next year and he's always looking for new ideas. This one, frankly, seemed to grab him by the balls.
Then our segment came to a close, I think because some dude from the atomic energy commission was coming in. (Between you and me, what's that guy doing to change the world?) And so I gracefully said my goodbyes, but only after I left my recipe for my world famous idea soup:
1 c. polished idea (organic is best)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. vinegar
5 c. sass
3/4 c. daydream
Mix together in a crystal bowl with the tip of your right pinky finger. Boil until bubbling. Eat only with friends.