Friday, August 31, 2007

The Lost

Last night as I was worn out, in bed, and thinking about poetry while I got around to falling asleep, I started thinking about a poem. I had been thinking about writing poems about my experience in Arkansas, but this one wasn't about that, though it was somehow related. As I lay in bed, I got the first few lines, the last few, and an idea of what I wanted to do with it. I thought about getting up to write down what I had so far, and thus not forget it, but I decided to trust it to my memory which has worked for me in the past. I ran over the lines time and again before I drifted off, to fix them in my mind.

I just now remembered the poem. Except, I don't remember it. I have a vague sense of it. I'm thinking it had something to do with someone I used to know, a female someone, and revolved around a tough experience I had. Beyond that, though, I'm blank. I can't even remember what experience it related to. Urgh. For future reference: bad idea to trust solely to one's memory when one has a fever.

Whether the poem was a brilliant one or not, it's lost to me and I don't know if I'll regain it. Sometimes, these things pop back up at unexpected moments, and sometimes they stay lost. I usually think that if the idea was good enough, it'll find its way back to me. That if it wasn't, it's okay that it's lost. This usually keeps me from getting bummed about losing things. This time really irks me, though. I had something, but now it's slipped away, and I don't even have a clear idea of what it was. That's the most frustrating part.

What do you do when a great idea crosses your mind? Do you trust your mind alone to hold onto it? Do you write it down? What kind of system to you use, notebook, post-its, computer files, the back of your hand? What makes an idea stick in your head? Do you find that if you can remember a certain line from the story, you can pull the rest back out of your head? Or, if you've got the title, you've got it all? Also, what do you do about lost ideas? You ever get any of them back?


Whittaker Luckless said...

I try to write down all the good ideas. I read this book once, called "Writing Mysteries", in which this guy suggests getting a big cardboard box and a lot of index cards, or slips of paper, whatever, and whenever you have an idea just write it down on an index card and toss it into the box. I've tried doing that. Issues arose when it took several index cards to get the whole idea written down.

Recently I've been trying to rely on my memory, but I've also been trying to connect ideas with visual or audible or tangible triggers. Like I had this idea for a story about four couples who decide to name their kids John, Paul, George, and Richard, and force them through subtle coaxing to create a band, while simultaneously cutting them off from ever encountering the Beatles. See, kind of a big idea. But it came to me when I was listening to some music, and I kept thinking about it while listening to some other music, so the music reminds me. Plus, I kept adding to the idea right there at the beginning, got it big and complicated. I figure bigger and more complicated ideas are easier to remember.

Jenny said...

Usually I just lose them. I trust that it was not meant to be...and that a more brillianter idea will come later.

Ali said...

Hrm... idea boxes. This could be a practical use for my box collecting habit. Now perhaps I have stuff to put in them. Quick! I must grab a pen and head for the index cards! Seriously, though, it could work.

More brillianter? *Cough* That one actually hurts me. :)

D.B. deClerq said...

I've used the idea box for years. I put in characters, snippets of conversations, titles, whatever comes to me. Then I can mix and match. But you have to have something to write on when the idea comes to you. So I bought a cheap digital recorder that I keep in my purse.

D.B. deClerq said...

Oh, and 'more brillianter' is pretty painful.