Friday, January 21, 2011
Here's an Idea!
Over the hols my sister suggested that I start a blog. Why not? Nothing much else is happening on the creative fiction front. Why not join the rest of the planet in airing my dirty laundry in public (assuming there is, or ever will be, a public to sift through the soiled garments of my mind). So my buddy Benito set up this blog for me. Seconds later I hit the wall. What the hell do I write about? I mean I’m full of ideas, bursting with ‘em – one-liners, puns, poems, outlines for novels and plays, concepts for films, short stories, radio shows, character names, band names, business names, song titles, gadgets … . I don’t invite these ideas, they just come knocking, and then insist on being put them down in my Ideas File (96 pages and counting). But that’s as far as the ideas ever go. They remain ideas. I couldn’t be arsed developing all these wonderful ideas into anything more substantial.
One idea I’ve kicked around till it’s black and blue is to turn my Ideas File into a book, a Book of Ideas. But that would take work – discipline, dedication, ambition, energy, time, sacrifice … (just add nauseum). And all that stuff would eat deeply into my leisure hours which I’ve been jealously nurturing for a number of years now. But for what it’s worth, the idea for my Book of Ideas is that people would buy the book and if there’s an idea in the book that they like and want to develop then they’re free to do so, on the condition that if the idea they develop – book, script, play etc. – blossoms into some megahit of the magnitude of Harry Potter – or even the minitude of a new Matthew Newton show – then they pay me a royalty. Now I realise that this idea is fraught with problems. How do I collect royalties from realised ideas from my Book of Ideas? I suppose I’d have to somehow patent every single idea and then any interested parties could negotiate with me, which would prove to be prohibitively ridiculous. In any case the point is moot as the Book of Ideas will never get off the ground, let alone off my p.c.
But now another idea is fermenting: rather than let all these fine ideas just moulder in my mind, maybe I should publish them on my blog. Yes! That’s the plan. At least for now. Like an intellectual garage sale I’ll lay out all my ideas and concepts – old, new, borrowed, blue - and see if anyone wants to have a rummage. If at the end of a short trial period – say, three years – I have more followers than just my sister (she promised) I might be encouraged to continue. Who knows, I might even strike a fat publishing deal and my Blog of Ideas will become a Book of Ideas and rocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Then again, people may think my ideas are a) crap b) plagiarised c) plagiarised crap.
Speaking of which, one of the ideas in my Ideas File is for a how-to handbook for criminals. It’s a short entry that I put down about five years ago and reads like this: “A How To book for criminals – how to shoplift, murder, mug, burgle etc.” Okay. I’m not claiming it’s genius, but it’s an idea none the less and ideas are about all I have. I’ve just been reading Steve Toltz’s book “A Fraction of the Whole”, published about two years ago, and its plot features … guess what? Yep, the publishing of a how-to handbook book for criminals. Now, I’m not suggesting Steve Toltz ripped me off. I don’t know Steve Toltz and as far as I know I’ve never met Steve Toltz (then again I do drink a bit). I’ve never published the idea or spoken about it from stage, so unless Steve Toltz is some kind of psychic burglar (now there’s an idea!) then it’s just purely co-incidental that this idea of mine happens to feature in Steve Toltz’s fine novel. Ideas ripen and fall off the vine and if you don’t want them then some smart, industrious bastard will come along and scoop them up before they rot. So I might as well try and find a nice loving home for my malnourished intellectual property (Lost Intellectual Property Office, anyone?).
But I’m not precious. If by chance there’s an idea that you like, you’re welcome to it. That’s right! Take it and develop it, flesh it out into something fat and substantial, and if it’s a hit all I ask is a small credit in the titles and a modest reality cheque of, say, five percent. I suspect this, my first entry, my mission statement, is longer than your average blog, if not smarter. If you’ve got this far congratulations. As I say this is an experiment and I may alternate the ideas with the odd poem, satirical snippet or scathing piece of social commentary.
Okay, so here’s my first idea. (And please, don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before):
Idea for an illustrated children’s book: “The Boy Who Cried Shark!”
You get the picture, an Ozzified update on a classic. Simple but effective, and there shouldn’t be any copyright issues as I’m sure The Boy Who Cried Wolf has been in the public domain for centuries.
The setting is a packed beach on a boiling day with a mischievous brat – shall we call him Gavin Meany? – who scrambles hundreds of swimmers from the surf with the cry of “Shark!” Confusion, panic, sirens, p.a. announcements, screaming kids, old folks having heart attacks, lifeguards in a frenzy, assisting people and launching boats. But there’s no shark to be seen. The lifeguards quiz the kid who swears he saw one.
Next day, with normality restored at the beach, same deal. The kid hollers “shark!” and hundreds of swimmers come boiling from the water. The third time it happens the lifeguards click that young Gavin is pulling their leg, so they decide to pull his. They construct a massive fake shark fin propelled by a diver – let’s borrow the one from Jaws – sneak up behind Gavin in the water and scare the shit out him – literally! (I suppose they scare the shit out of everyone else as well?). With young Gavin screaming and thrashing they reveal the fraud of the fake fin and give the boy a stern dressing down. Having learned his lesson a snivelling Gavin and the lifeguards are about to head back to shore when someone cries “shark!”
They turn around to see a humungous fin slicing through the water straight towards them, but this one’s real! … How to end? On a closeup of their horrified faces? With the shark being repelled by the smell of Gavin’s poo? With the real shark trying to hump the diver with the fake shark fin? (err, perhaps not for the kids), or very blackly with a bloody massacre? … The thing writes itself. Get a good illustrator on board and Bob’s your uncle!