Monday, October 8, 2007

Saving Quarters

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a bunch of writers at the conference in San Luis Obispo. Cecil Castellucci was telling us a story about her parents and the unique way they spend their anniversary. It was a great story, one which I won't repeat here, because as you will see, I don't own it.

When she finished explaining it, all of us nodded, and we all recognized the look in each others eyes - we were all trying to figure out where we could use that in a current or future piece. Someone finally said that since it was Cecil's story, it belonged to her and we all laughed and agreed, yeah, that we wouldn't use it, because by rights it did belong to her.

I've been thinking about this a lot. Writers don't use paints, or other scraps in our artwork - we use ideas. It's dangerous when there are a bunch of writers in a room and someone tells a good story or something funny happens - we all want to file it away to use it later. It's a lot like finding a quarter face-up on the sidewalk. If you know who it belongs to, by rights you have to appreciate it and then hand it back. If you don't, then everyone can jump on it and spend it on whatever they want.

On this date: In 1871, the Great Fire destroyed much of Chicago.

5 comments:

Big Momma Pimpalishisness With A Cherry On Top said...

My god, that's so true!!!

Lots of time I find myself hearing a great story or seeing a great cartoon and going "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that first!!!"

Suzette McD said...

I couldn't agree with you more! However, as a painter, I see paintings & works of art that burn me with inspiration (and the desire to copy it outright!!!). Alas, I am moral & honest like you. It sucks.

Linda D. (sbk) said...

So very true. I just shared a couple of ghost stories from my childhood with my son and he's gone and stolen them for a little movie he's making.

Not what I had in mind when I told him. I can live with that easily enough because he's my son and his movie isn't going anywhere - just for fun. But it can be so easy to hear a great story and want to snatch it up for your own use. It's something we should all be aware of.

Disco Mermaids said...

And remember when we were eating eggs and hashbrowns at Denny's at 11:00 at night and Jay showed the waitress his neat artwork he'd made with his ketchup and she said, "I've had a guy write his phone number for me on his plate in ketchup." Remember that?
It's mine.

Hee hee,
Robin

cynjay said...

Dang! That was a great moment.

I'll give you five bucks for it.