Ideas mean shit…it’s doing it that counts!


In my last post I described how my mortality had snuck up on me and dumped a rather large poo in my living room in the fact that in 15 years time I’ll be pushing 70.  See here for my thoughts…they have some relevance to the origin of this post.

I carried on thinking about 30 years ago – and back in 1985 I’d just moved to Sheffield and was living a mile from where I live now; I was doing a lot of writing for various computing and electronics magazines – this was pre-Internet, and pre-Email for most of us. Writing and publishing articles involved wordprocessing the copy, adding a separate sheet with drawings or diagrams on – if you needed photos you had to get 10×8 prints, or slides, and then sending the whole lot off to the magazine editor (or if things were desperate, you faxed them…)  Some magazines were quite advanced – you could actually send stuff on floppy disc or cassette tape as well!

I just had a look through the magaines piled up here at Pritchard Towers and realised I was producing about 1 or 2 pieces a month for different magazines.  And those were the days when you got paid for writing…soemtiems the editors would ring up and say ‘Can you do 1000 words on xxxxx’ or ‘There’s a box going to be delivered to you tomorrow – it’s a Bambleweeny 350-Z with extra Zoinks – can you write me a review by Friday?’

I didn’t quite imagine my editors with bottles of scotch in the desk drawer, but it sometimes felt like that.   The odd thing was I never seemed to be short of ideas. I occasionally worried about not having ideas, but was usually able to deliver on demand.

As well as writing articles, I also did books, and by the mid-1980s I was producing a technical book at the rate of about 1 every 10 months or so – these were practical programming guides, and I was also writing short stories ‘for fun’. The ideas that I couldn’t use immediately got written down for future use.  And so it is that I have a yellow manilla folder in my filing cabinet drawer, dated 1986, that contains drawings, notes, chapter list, book outline, clippings, some photographs, photocopies…everything I need to get started on a book project.  And yet…despite the interest I had in that idea…I never got it started.

I must have opened that file up every 6 months for the last 29 years. I have seen 3 other books published by other authors with reasonable success that skirted the topic of my idea, and I watch the publisher’s lists for similar stuff. If I see anything, I get worried…but I still haven’t felt motivated enough in all those years to do something with this project.  I think that I’d like to do it, but clearly something stops me.

And it’s not just this one off; I have a little pile of half finished good ideas and at least one idea that had I taken it to market at the time I had it would have made me a fair amount of money.  Ideas have definitely never been a problem for me. It’s actually doing something with them….

I hope that my recent ponderings on my mortality will kick me up the arse and get me motivated!

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