"Remember, there's no such thing as a bad idea."
This is a phrase that I hear with alarming regularity, particularly at work, and often in Brainstorms, or whatever political correctness dictates we now call them. 'Thinkdrizzles' or something, I expect.
It's a piece of idiom that I've never fully understood; Clearly there is such a thing as a bad idea. I can think of three right now:
1. Inflatable shoes for cats.
2. Toasters for kids' paddling pools.
3. Justin Bieber's parents foregoing contraception.
And the list goes on. Obviously, the principle is that even a poor suggestion may prompt a better one. This is fine, but I'm certain that there would be a better way to express it, rather than providing a caveat for completely abandoning the filter of common sense before speaking.
"Shall I wear a condom, darling?"
"No, don't worry, a child would be great for our relationship, and it's not as if two normal Canadians like us are likely to produce one of the world's most hateful and precocious teenage megastars, is it?"
"Well, I don't know, there was that blood pact we made with Satan."
"I guess... but what the heck - you only live once."
I don't have the precise transcript from that conversation in 1993, but I can only imagine it ran more or less along those lines.
On the subject of 'ideas', it's time for the (even more) self-indulgent bit of this post. I've been asked a few times of late where ideas for tweets come from. My response is usually that I have a sweat-shop in Bangalore, churning out vast swathes of 140 character combinations for me to review and post. It's a polarising answer, but the truth is that I don't really know.
Often the seed of a joke will come from something I hear in conversation, or read in the paper (ok, so it's normally online, but there's something about reading actual newsprint which appeals to my desire to appear more cultured, and permissive of the wanton destruction of our planet's natural resources).
However, I then regularly dedicate time to making it work in 140 characters to the best of my ability. Sometimes a minute, but often it will percolate for a few days, or even weeks in some cases. I think this is why I'm easily riled by responses of "surely it's better if...", or "would be funnier with...". They may well be right, but like a protective mother, it makes me want to attach electrodes to their genitals, and perform unspeakable acts of cruelty on their extended family and pets. I've often wondered whether the people I admire on twitter, or indeed as writers in general, have similar routines and habits, or perhaps just a complex algorithm. And where they get their electrodes from.
That said, Twitter itself is quite often the inspiration. If you haven't seen @MooseAllain talk about the 'Hive Mind' of Twitter (here), it's well worth a watch, as it describes something that I agree is unique to the platform in terms of stimulating creativity. It could be a half-mention of an Eighties TV show, an unusual turn of phrase, or even a picture of a Parisian bakery (note to self, do a 'French knickers made of bread/Boulingerie' gag), which sparks something else. And that's why I love it. Especially when you watch the process unfold in front of you. I'll often see a great tweet, and know exactly where the inspiration has come from. And it's a wonderful thing to observe.
Now, returning to the topic of bad ideas, I'm off to write a film adaptation, where a robot Arnie travels back in time to Ontario in the early Nineties to perform a vasectomy. The Sperminator.