May 5th, 2009


Ideas are Cheap, Work is Real

Helen E. H. Madden, like any good writer, is also a reader. She reads books and listens to podcasts. This is part of what makes her a good writer. A few weeks ago, she listened to my story "From Liquid To Glass" on Escape Pod, and then, sometime afterwards, she wrote "The Clockwork Heart" a 200 word story that has some of the same ideas in it as "From Liquid To Glass". There is, in both stories, an erotic component, a robot lover and a sense of loss.

Was Helen "stealing"?

I say no.

Ideas are cheap. Taking the time, energy and creativity to make something out of them, now, that's expensive. If I wrote a book about a magic school for kids and you wrote a book about a magic school for kids they would still be different books. This is why I can keep spinning ideas into flash fictions and sharing them on the web. If you write something inspired by someone else, you are going to do it differently than they would have. Not to mention that no matter how many ideas other people spin off into their own work, I'll always have more. I never seem to run out of them! 

Of course, using an idea is different than using the actual text, or copying a picture - but I think that taking an idea and making it your own is a fine creative endevor. If we could not do that, then the creative world would be a sad place indeed.

Helen, thank you for letting me know that my work inspired yours - you, in turn, inspired me to think about ideas and the nature of creative work. Thanks!