How can James Joyce help keep your ideas from being stolen?

Inspiration comes to me from many random places. Here's the latest.

In How to Read Novels like a Professor (not your average coffee table reading, I suppose, but I currently am...did I mention I'm a bit of a geek?), Thomas Foster says:

"...despite a 20-year gap, [James] Joyce copies [someone else's] style exactly for many of Leopold Bloom's monologues in Ulysses. Joyce finds and capitalizes on a style of narrative by Edouard Dujardin in a novel which he says "lapsed into neglect and was largely forgotten." (Too bad for Dujardin!)

The point is not that what eventually became James Joyce's trademark style was first attempted by someone else. The point is rather that when Jim discovered a gem, he acted in response.
Certainly there were other factors like timing, genius and culture that contributed to his success, but this particular find is the catalyst to one of the great changes in writing craft eventually came to define Joyce's own.

I am embarrassed and more than a little chagrined to admit how many creative impulses I've felt but acted on only in part if at all, then discovered, often within just months, that someone else had the same or a very similar idea and ...acted.

Whether for confession leading to absolution or for sheer exercise of ego, here is a sampling:
  • The national franchise for in-home care for which I have a full business plan tucked away in a desk drawer.
  • A book or two now in print by others on topics I have have only begun writing about.  
  • The musical that fits in the same category.
  • Countless songs I've heard played on radio using a hook with which the muse once courted me, but like scorned Tinkerbell ignored by Peter Pan, took her affections and deposited them somewhere they would actually be appreciated!
As a result the work of others is influencing me and the universe in which I orbit.

I wonder how much more good we might see and experience in the world if we leaned into our discoveries and creative impulses? There is only one James Joyce (yes, breathe a sigh of relief), and I don't aspire to his literary stature, but it does cause me to ask, "What if...?"

What is it like for you see a dream of you own someone else has carried to full-term and safely delivered? What treasure in or around you is in danger of "lapsing into neglect and [being] largely forgotten" that might be waiting to be found and shared?

Start your own courageous journey with just one step. Post a comment, maybe just one word, that lets your temperamental muse know you're not ignoring her/him altogether; that you're seriously inspired and ready to  act.

As for me, I'm doing that by simply hitting 'send' today!

2 comments: said...

I've pondered this a billion times. I see choreography, books and stories and wonder what I'd do if / when someone else acts on my idea. This post fuels me to take action NOW! The muse is clearly free with her giving. . She just wants us to do something with all that inspiration being thrown on out. This was so encouraging.

Gwen Shipley said...

If you're moved OR encouraged I've done my work. If you're both, the muse is overjoyed! Happy creating. Thanks for checking in.