I had an idea for a story today. I thought what if...? But I don't want to talk about the idea. I want to talk about where it came from.
Can all stories be got from a 'what if?' question? Is that where creativity comes from? I don't know. Did Picasso think 'what if everything looked like a set of cubes?' or did Dali wonder 'what if I melted some watches and spread them on a landscape?' Should modern art be appreciated as an example of original thought in its own right or is it just inspiration for the more practically minded?
As a development engineer I was always interested in how thing got invented. Do you remember the old-style kettles? They had a broad base so that they could absorb as much heat from the hob as possible with a handle at the top away from the heat. When the electric version came out, all they did was put an electric element inside, a socket on the back, some rubber feet and 'hey presto!' - a modern marvel. Then someone must have said 'hey, it doesn't have to be like this'. They made a smaller base so that it took less room on the worktop, made it taller, fashioned it from plastic and stuck the handle on the side. Being a technologist, I could never see the point of art, let alone surrealist stuff. But now I wonder if the person had been looking at a Picasso when the kettle idea came to them.
I'm still no closer to finding the source of my ideas. It's probably not important. Maybe the important thing is to stop worrying where it originates from and just look after it when turns up. I picked up this link from Frances Garrood's blog. It's a 20 minute presentation by a guy who is really funny and seems to know what he's talking about. It's well worth a look.
And if you recognised the quote in the title – Michael Caine, The Italian Job. Now that film WAS inspirational.