Year of the Abandoned Idea

by bisybackson

For me, 2011 has been the Year of the Abandoned Idea. So many have lagged behind and have fallen: ideas for articles, essays, blog posts, poems, emails, and even – tragically – tweets. Only a few ever made it through to the other side, and by then they were virtually unrecognisable. Dazed and weary, coated in sweat and swamp scunge.

This blog post is a burial ground for a few of the ideas that really tried, that really struggled, but just never made it. I have returned to the sites of their downfall and gently carried them here.

  • Different kinds of hungers/appetites reimagined as breeds of dog. Great Dane, whippet, dachshund, scraggly sea dog, and so forth.
  • Poem about a nightmare I had in which a priest has his head blasted open by a man with an elephant gun. The hole closed up almost immediately, just like in Terminator 2, and the priest shook himself and continued on with his sermon.
  • Poem in which I reimagine some people as punctuation marks. (“You were always the apostrophe, / defensive of all possessions, pushing them before you / like a supermarket trolley.”)
  • In Search of the Peanut Butter Machine (that used to be in residence at Whanganui New World).
  • Poem about a world in which similes do not exist, and what happens as the poets gradually lose their minds.

  • An expository on my life of tea, which opens: “I’m disappointed with London’s tea scene. Of all the places in the world, I’d thought that this one would be the most accommodating to my needs.” (Possibly include anecdote about bringing in my own special tea to work, and how people commented that this was very strange, and how the next day the special tea was GONE. People actually couldn’t bear to look at it.)
  • A poem that half-rhymes ‘crumpet’ with ‘armpit’. As far as I know no one has done this yet.
  • Brain Shocks: a day-by-day account about going off anti-depressants; the piece concludes with an assertion of which reality is the truer one.
  • Something about the tiny, aggressively-panting runner I used to pass each early morning in Mt. Cook, usually in the dark. She was the size and stature of a wild, wiry goat and her morning run seemed driven by despair. What was she like when she just walked? What was she like when she sat down with a cup of tea?
  • Blog post about getting eyelashes stuck in my eye. (“Usually a lost eyelash works its way out as I sleep. Or it works its way to the back of my eyeball, swimming upwards like a fish into my brain.”) Possibly could be shortened to an orphan tweet, at the relevant moment.
  • Essay about the history of the flaming skull image. I’ve always thought that if I ever have a book, I’d like it to have a flaming skull on the cover. I’m not saying this for shock value. I would really, honestly like this.
  • A series of “An Afternoon with …” poems about EVERYONE I HAVE EVER MET.  Make a book called Afternoons and launch it with an afternoon tea party – inviting all of the people in the book – then try to write a poem about the afternoon tea. (So far I’ve written about afternoons with Jane, Simon, Matthew, and high-school teachers, but there are many hundreds to go.)
  • An essay about the history of the headbutt.
  • A poem called “Desire”. (“Don’t look directly at it / unless you’re wearing the special glasses.”)
  • Something about a friend of mine who has several mind-altering phobias: capsicum seeds (too much like ovaries, which should stay internal, always), sleeping people (they make her feel very awake and very, very alone; there is no point going on when people are sleeping, it feels like they have given in, they have betrayed her), peach skin (the faint squeak of fur against teeth, as if one is eating a small animal), shiny shoes (no person should be able to see himself in his shoes), and unmediated banana (a banana should never ever be eaten unmediated, with the discarded skin close by like a rubber glove at the scene of a crime; bananas are only okay if they are IN things – muffins, cakes, desserts – where the fact that they have come out of a PEEL is disguised).
Amy Wilton
Amy Wilton, via Guardian

  • An interview with Kevin McCloud, because he just seems like such a lovely guy.
  • An interview with Pic Picot, maker of Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter which comes in “an amazingly returnable jar” with a poem by the retiring, otherwise-unpublished poet Bill Smith under every label.
  • An interview with the long-haired guy who sells The Big Issue on Shaftesbury Avenue. He wears a leather waistcoat with ‘Jesus Loves You’ on it and wishes every single passerby a good morning. He never seems to tire.
  • An interview with one of my heroes, the cartoonist Tom Gauld.
  • An interview with Tom Hodgkinson, co-founder of the Idler Academy.
  • An interview with my boss. I’ve never been so confused.

The Nefeljcs Project at Budapest, via Colossal

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Working. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Year of the Abandoned Idea

  1. Jennifer Compton says:

    great stuff


  2. Bill says:

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. Have to do that though, to find the good ones.

    I vote for the essay on headbutts, although I expect it might be like discovering the origin of the universe.


  3. David Geary says:

    You got to do something about the headbutts. Famous Headbutts of History? Zinedine Zidane’s Soccer World Cup shocker would be up there for sure… just how bad was that sledge? The Liverpool Kiss, the ‘Mr Bean headbutts the Queen’ scene… they don’t have to be real ones of course. And the ideas aren’t really abandoned now as they’re out there on your blog, living their life as ideas. My fave was trying to half-rhyme crumpet and armpit. I love that, that makes me really uncomfortable. “She had a crumpet armpit”…ick!


    • You’ve given life to the headbutt idea! It could be risky – I don’t want to get myself pigeonholed – but, God, maybe it must be done after all.
      I really love uncomfortable ideas, because I think they great potential to tell us things about ourselves and so on, but there is a line somewhere between interestingly uncomfortable and just yucky uncomfortable don’t-want-to-explore any further, and I think the crumpet armpit may be sitting on that line.


  4. Angela (Ms LiteraryMinded) says:

    I love this. And they’re all good ideas! I’ve been toying with the idea of a post like this for a little while, but where I go through old notebooks & manuscripts in my filing cabinet. It might be a long post, though. Maybe this idea in itself may become another Abandoned Idea.
    Love the dogs.


  5. David Geary says:

    When Mick Rose and I wrote our play THE RABBITER’S DAUGHTER the young tortured writer, Karl Sharp, had a place for all the ideas that didn’t make it – THE BISCUIT BOX OF BROKEN DREAMS (It was one of those lovely old Griffins’ Sampler boxes.) Maybe I’ll start a blog called that so I can preserve mine there? PS: I may take the notional headbutt from you and perhaps start tweeting the HISTORY OF HEADBUTTS, if that’s okay?


    • The Biscuit Box of Broken Dreams – superb. It’s the time of year for Griffins Samplers, so maybe, symbolically, it is also time to open a fresh box, make our selections, then once again look upon the broken, rapidly staling leftover ones. The circle of life…. goes on. The tweeting of headbutts totally has my blessing.


  6. ceciliag says:

    Ah well, if those are your abandoned ideas I am desperate to know what is next!! c


  7. ClaireMcA says:

    Just another page in the notebook of ideas and inspirations, totally necessary and ought not to be confined to the idea of ‘must present oneself in 2011 or else’, let them continue simmering until they are fully formed or bring them out into the daylight like you have here and see what sticks, or just be that page in the notebook celebrating the many ideas you are capable of forming, whether they mature or not. Bonne Continuation!


  8. Pingback: Hello Twenty Twelve | the red room

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s