Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 90 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis



What's a Little Borrowing Among Friends?

Okay, this has possibilities of finding me strung to a gibbet by morning! My only defense is that what I'm doing isn't an original IDEA but one I am borrowing from a posting on Big Think  by Johnathan Keats.  To say Keats is out of the mainstream of thought is probably understatement at its most ludicrous, but it's the derivation of ideas we're talking about here. If you can't wander out onto the lower forty and hold a conversation with your demons, where the hell else are you going to get them?
As a blues musician I come from a long and honored tradition of blatant thievery (Most players will tell you they 'borrowed' the line their playing. Are they going to pay it back?). There isn't a melody, bass line, lyrical turn, lick or riff that isn't, if not totally, then influentially, attributable to someone else. The southern states, where the musical form originated, are the home of free range ideas. Someone heard someone, who heard someone, and eventually ended up penning a chart topping hit for The Rolling Stones or Joe Bonamasa.

What Keats proposes, and I see his logic in it's wonderful, twisted clarity, is that we all adopt this sort of free range mentality when it comes to ideas. Not the whole cloth products that are created from them but the basic ideas themselves.

I'm one of the first to admit that I will lift an idea out of a story in the morning paper (Come on, you couldn't make most of that crap up!) and run with it. It might come out as verse, or prose, or be twisted to be applied in something I'm knocking out in this space. Names, dates, places get changed, I extrapolate plots or endings and diddle the details. But still, the idea is something I pulled from somewhere else.

But it's just a newspaper article you say! Oh, my thievery doesn't stop there. Give me a good line out of a book, or a subplot that can grow up and become it's own entity, and sure as John Dillinger held up banks, I swipe it, repaint and reupholster it faster than a Tijuana chop shop and sell it back to the original owner...And I expect the same. They're ideas, I mold the ones I use and they become something different and someone reshapes mine and the process goes merrily on its way.

Who knows what might come out of it? Maybe I get that total spark that results in a creative forest fire and , BAM, a million copy best seller and a house in Costa Rica to write the next one in. Or, down the road, I pick up a copy of Joe Smith's latest and, right there in black and white, is something I JUST KNOW first breathed life in the convoluted back alleys of my gray matter. Damned good show! I never thought of it that way.

I'm not saying plagiarise your way to a fortune. What I am saying is that a little judicious 'borrowing' is good for the art. You never know what you might find at another party's intellectual yard sale!, love, write.

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Dane F. Baylis. Author.

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