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Intro to Too Many Ideas

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Many different painted light bulbs, representing ideas

So many ideas, and so many of them so bright

I’ve been working on this off and on over the last few months, and I’ve got close to 2,000 words, mostly in disconnected paragraphs. I’m not going to be able to pull it all together and keep to the rest of my schedule. So, I’m improvising. I’ll give the gist of it, and then I’ll put some of the best bits after, with headings, and if you’re interested you can go into it.

All my life I’ve been interested in, and wanted to devote myself to, so many different things that I couldn’t possibly manage to do it in a single lifetime. And I didn’t want to pick one thing and discover that I chose it to the exclusion of everything else.

Story from my youth illustrating reluctance to choose one thing

In a way I’ve been trying to solve this problem for my whole life. I used to judge myself mercilessly, as a dilettante, as self-indulgent, as forever opting out of the world of grown-ups. I loved organic chemistry in high school, loved my organic teacher, loved the deep order and structure of life, of molecules, and the ingenious ways humans had devised to learn about and manipulate atoms and molecules. And without much effort I was quite good at it. I’ll be a chemist, I said to myself.

And for a little while I was excited. But then I imagined myself spending year after year developing my career specialty, researching and devising in some particular corner of the chemical universe, and felt like I could never stand it.

I’ve got dozens and dozens of projects. I don’t want to let any of them go undone. And since I’ve got limited energy, and there’s only so many hours in the week, and I’ve got limited time, especially if my lung disease ends up dragging me under, I’ve got a problem that needs solving. If you’ve been following along, you know what some of those ideas are. There’s a lot more. I’ll put up as many of the rest of those ideas as I can, but not today.

Here’s the thing. I’ll give the executive summary: I’m going to:

try to choose intelligently and balance out all the factors, so that what I’m actually accomplishing is coming as close as possible to the best use of my time;

pick some subset of my too many ideas and find people to help me make them actually happen;

create a mechanism so that my too many ideas can be organized and accessible and other people can be encouraged to execute as many of them as possible.

How does time figure in?

A huge part of the Too Many Ideas topic has to do with time. If I had an infinite amount of time, I could work on each one of my many ideas, push them forward one at a time, and eventually more and more of them would start to bloom and become realized. But since I don’t have an infinite amount of time, I’m not going to be able to work on all of them, and maybe some of them will never be worked on by anyone. So, the disciplines that come into play are planning, prioritizing, management, analysis, intuition, goal-setting, in other words, pragmatic arts that are about getting things done.

Any significant emotional / psychological factors?

So I have seriously been trying to find a solution to this problem for quite a few years now. And I’ve come up with some potential solutions, some of which I’ve already begun to implement.

One of the most difficult parts of implementing many of my solutions is that they have to involve other people. I need to interest other people and persuade them to participate in one way or another or it will simply be possible to actualize only a quite small percentage.

In one of those apparent misfortunes, this is precisely the very weakest link in my personal chain of being. Both by nature and nurture, I am best suited to be solitary. As Left-Ear says in the Italian Job, “I had a bad experience.” And then there’s whatever my non-neuro-typ, Aspie, OCD, Social Anxiety deal is.

But I’ve been pushing against whatever that is in me vigorously since 1975 (37 years) and I’ve made some progress. If I’m going to pull this off, I’m gonna have to make some more progress.

Offer them to anyone’s who’s interested, for free, in the Idea Bin

I’ve been toying with the idea for some time now of having something called the Idea Bin where I just declare, there’s far more than I am ever going to be able to do, so they’re up for grabs. And sometimes I think, I’ll franchise them somehow, or I’ll say, if you ever make any money on this, give me 5% of the profits for the first year (no, three years), or I get donations to fund people taking them on (another aspect of in-a-box, pre-formed kickstarter campaign), and then run some kind of application / contest process to find people to do them. All which tends to make something like an exploitable (and renewable up to a point (momento deadguyi and all)), which I actually wouldn’t mind being. And really, there’s never been a better time to actually accomplish such a thing – the world has never been more receptive to “anyone know anyone who’d be interested in doing something like …” announcements than it is now, and it’ll be more receptive tomorrow and who knows what that looks like out a few years. Exponential, asymptotic it, drops to zero on 12/21/12?

We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better. Stronger. Faster. More leisure-suited.

Well, what are all these ideas?

Some of them are under development as topics here. There’s some creative work: the science fiction stories set in the Pharma Alien Future world, the play On the Lawn, the musical, Depraved Indifference. And the High School Play.

There’s climate change related ideas, including the Climate Comedy initiative, making the 10/10/10 production (see the Voices for Hope Page ) available for productions and promoting it. There’s all the semi-developed ideas visible at Climate-Savers.org .

There’s all the different aspects of my writing career, including, continuing to find immediate paying work, setting up all my person-to-person commission work (resumes, poems, brand consultations, audition pieces), starting to market myself to PR and Ad agencies as a writer, starting to produce articles, publish them and try to get hired to do articles through queries.

Political / Cultural: I still have a lot of faith in AlternativeWestchester. I’ve been thinking about creating some kind of regional publishing / aggregating site for green & alternative news for Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess. Also, I have a whole set of ideas that I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some interns to come in and work on. Oh, and there’s Central Services, centralized office, legal, logistical, donation, etc. services for non-profits.

Here’s some examples from a few days in April:

“It would be interesting to do an animation that would visualize the way that a person’s presented persona was organized and operated. How strong is desire to conform vs. internal drive to be a gadfly vs. sense of humor vs. moral outrage. And how are those qualities connected to something like underlying ‘real’ personality, if any.”

And also “I should really start some kind of science fiction stories / movement about asteroid mining. I like asteroid mining and there’s some interesting things afoot and I’d like to meet some of those guys. Being friends with some of the richest people in the world might be nice.”

“I should really write one of those ‘natural histories of’ books about strategic metals, or some particular strategic metal. It’s one of those invisible dusty byways, and yet there’s a whole political / historical tale that can be told, and it lays bare in an undisguised way so many assumptions about who we are and what we have a right to do and what no one asks about.”

And, oh yeah, “a central clearing house called ALEC-watch (American Legislative Exchange Council (which I was hip to before stand your ground became an issue, by the way)) which would keep track of and post everything they were up to, would be a press resource when something actually broke mainstream (or even leftstream) and could be a central organizing point for rotating protesters camping on perpetrating people’s lawns and flashmobs and all like that.”

I’m stopping now. As you can tell, there’s plenty more where that came from, but I’m already closing in on 1,500 words, and I’ve got more things on my list to accomplish today. I feel like this is a lot less clear and more disorganized than I’d like. I’m going to create a Too Many Ideas Page and start adding things there. I’ll let you know.

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