I had a birthday recently and a friend gave me a brilliant present called 642 Things to Write About. At first I thought she’d given me an A4 lined notebook (she’s usually much more imaginative), but then I saw that it really did have 642 ideas of things to write about and the space in which to write them.
A random sample:
‘Write a love scene from the point of view of your hands’
‘Fix the plot of the worst movie you’ve ever seen’.
‘Find a photograph. Write the story of what’s happening outside the frame.’
‘Scientists announce they’ve discovered the secret to immortality. Write a petition letter to save the event of death.’
Unsurprisingly, it comes from the US.
The story of how it came about is intriguing. A magical-sounding outfit called the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto was challenged to come up with this many ideas for a book. They weren’t given a time limit. A pool of 35 writers then came up with all 642, unbidden, over a 24 hour period.
Aside from the ideas themselves – each of which could be the starting point for a whole book – there are some inspiring aspects to this enterprise:
a). That it’s possible, not under pressure but from pure creative impetus, to come up with this many ideas.
b). That someone had the inspired idea to make them into a book in the first place.
c). That there is, in San Francisco a space – perhaps a vacant floor of an office block or in an old warehouse – ‘a warren maze of small offices and library-like carrels’ where people go to write. This sounds too prosaic. Surely it is a dim and mysterious cave of dark recesses where word-magic is woven by beavering elves…
Whatever, it’s obviously a place where creativity happens. What a great idea. Onwards and upwards to the Ealing Writers’ Grotto!