You know, this John Steinbeck quote is beautifully simple, straightforward, and true: “Ideas are like rabbits.” Even the imagery and simile of the beginning by itself imply the meaning since rabbits’ reproductive speed is a well-known cultural joke. When it’s expanded into an analogy, it’s patently clear:
It’s easy to be overrun by ideas.
Simple, right? In fact, I think I already touched on that when I talked about making sure you have some way of recording ideas for later use. I even posted a similar quote of my own about ideas last Easter.
So why post this John Steinbeck quote?
Well, since you asked (*cough*), there are a couple of reasons.
- I like it. (And it’s my blog, so I’ll post what I want. Thbbbt!)
- I wanted to make a creepy bunny image for it. (I ain’t right…)
- I’m moderately disturbed by it when considering some of Steinbeck’s books – 1 in particular.
Have you ever read Of Mice and Men? Doesn’t this John Steinbeck quote have weird overtones when considered in context with that book?
“Ideas are like rabbits…”
So we want to pet them and then accidentally kill them? They’re a pipe dream that will never be realized because we’re not capable of it?
I know, I know. I’m being too literal, and I’m overthinking it.
But, if you do really think about it, don’t those two questions add another aspect to the quote that are also true? I don’t know about you, but I’ve killed a few ideas in my time. I wasn’t trying to hurt them… That didn’t change the end result. And as much as we like to think that we can always try an idea again, in my experience, there are limits to that.
Like burnout, not having the right skill set, not being able to let go of ideas within it, etc.
Then, there’s the second question. Are these ideas just pipe dreams that we’ll never be able to realize? Again, I have to say, “Yes.” At least some of them.
Think of it this way: I’m still pretty young, so I could (potentially) live another 50+ years. I have new ideas at a rate of about 3 to 30 a day. I realize about 1 a day. Maybe. Or less. Some days, I might be able to use more if they can be merged together into something. Or if I’m somehow amazingly productive.
But that’s roughly 36,500 to 529,250 ideas that I won’t be able to use in my lifetime. I guess I could will them to someone else, but if other writers and artists have this same problem, then all I’m doing is adding to the number of ideas that they won’t be able to use.
And, really, who’s going to use my idea when they could use their own? Maybe, people who aren’t good at coming up with ideas; however, in that case, would I even want them to? Would they be able to explore the idea to its full potential?
So this quote went from a straightforward, kinda funny, and definitely true view about how ideas multiply to a macabre, dark, depressing, and possibly true view of how ideas multiply too much.
This might be one of those ideas I killed…
Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Or are you going to bury this knowledge deep in your psyche as soon as you finish reading so that you don’t have to look at it again?
*Do I have an artsy prejudice against the writing skills of non-idea-generating people? Hmmmm… That’s worrisome.