Ideas Versus Products

Frank MoraesA guy I work with a lot wrote an article years ago with a title something like, “Nobody Cares About Your Great Website Idea.” I remember liking it, but I can’t find it now. It doesn’t matter. It just occurred to me because I was thinking of the difference between having an idea and producing a product. In my case, a blog post.

Every profession has its little annoyances. In writing, it is having to listen to people tell you their idea for a novel or a screenplay. It doesn’t even matter if you are a writer. You might just want to be a writer and people will offer you ideas. It’s annoying for a couple of reasons.

Why Ideas Don’t Matter

First, there’s kind of an implied insult that you need ideas. I’ve never known a writer to not have vastly more ideas than time. I remember reading an interview with Charles Schulz where he said, if you couldn’t just sit down at your desk and think of something funny to draw, you weren’t a cartoonist. I think he overstated, but there is much to that.

The second problem with being offered ideas is related to the first. People think they are giving you something valuable, but they aren’t. If you took their idea, they would be giving you (almost certainly unpaid) work. Because it is taking an idea and turning it into a story or whatever that matters, not the idea itself. Usually, the final product has little relationship to the starting idea.

Think of the great film Chinatown. What scene does everyone remember? “She’s my sister and my daughter!” But Robert Towne’s original idea was to write about water rights in southern California. Now, that is ultimately what the story is about. But it’s not what people take away from the film.

Blog Post Ideas

Anyway, this is all about fiction. Blog posts are rather a different thing. And I do remember when I was writing a lot more, it could be difficult to come up with stuff to write about — at least when I had other writing work. Now I have the opposite problem.

Recently, I’ve had all these ideas for articles that I find hard to get entered into the computer. It’s mostly other work that is getting in the way — but not as you might think. I’ve been so stressed out that the idea of sitting down to write for pleasure has been impossible.

That’s true of the work here and Psychotronic Review, as well as my plays. In fact, I think I have had a breakthrough with my folklore play. But I don’t know if its going to work. Most ideas turn to ashes when presented with the stark sunlight of implementation.

(For the record, the new idea is to have two choruses who gradually disagree on how the play should be performed dividing the cast and crew into full-scale war. I know I can use that somewhere, but not necessarily in this play. Note that I don’t care that someone is going to steal this idea. Anyone good enough will have their own ideas on how to rip off Luigi Pirandello.)

But right now, I’m keen to sit in front of the screen and write for fun. So I hope that continues and I can maintain my minimal output on the consistent schedule I used to have. That is: the new consistent schedule, not the old one. I don’t have anything close to the amount of time to do six posts per day!


I would like to say in my defense that for a personal blog, this one still grinds out an enormous amount of content. What I’m more bothered by is not being very active with the comments. I’ll work on that too. But now I’m going to write an article for tomorrow that I’ve been meaning to write for at least a week. It should be fun: I get to go after libertarians again. That’s what passes for fun around here. That and the serial comma.

The Democrats’ Most Recent Lost Opportunity

Keith Ellison: Not DNC ChairThe DNC chair position looms large — perhaps larger than it should — in the minds of Sanders supporters. Many Sanders supporters believe that former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz helped stack the deck against Sanders — and that this was a key reason Sanders lost the primary.

Few people outside the hard-core Sanders circle think this is true, but to an extent that’s the point: precisely because many Democrats think Sanders supporters overstate the institutional power of the DNC chair, this is a smart concession to make to them. Putting an unassailable Sanders ally at its helm is an easy way to demonstrate that the party is reformed and no longer “rigged” — especially if you don’t believe it was ever rigged in the first place.

The Emergence of Tom Perez Mutes Ideological Conflict

The most obvious alternative to a stalwart progressive like Ellison would have been for Sanders’ critics in the Democratic Party to elevate a standard-bearer of the party’s more moderate wing. Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, for example, ran far ahead of Hillary Clinton in the red state and would have been a plausible centrist alternative to Ellison.

Instead, Ellison’s strongest opponent looks to be Perez. Four Democratic governors are backing him, he’s received endorsements from a few labor unions, and some Sanders allies, bolstered by reporting from The New York Times, feels the Perez boom is being fueled by Obama’s political team — though the White House denies this.

But Perez doesn’t present much of an ideological break from Ellison. He was an ardent foe of the Iraq War within weeks of it being declared; he has longstanding connections to the labor movement and the “Fight for $15” minimum wage campaign; he’s widely considered Obama’s most liberal Cabinet member; union leaders have loved his work.

Nor are their stated agendas, both geared toward more comprehensive and more granual organizing, particularly different. Perez calls for a DNC strategy in every zip code, while Ellison has called for one in every county…

In many ways what really aggravates Sanders’ allies about the push for Perez is the very absence of any kind of clear strategic or ideological gap between Perez and Ellison. If a big part of the case for Ellison is that installing a well-known Sanders ally at the DNC would help unify the party, then the essence of the case for Perez seems to be a desire to freeze Sanders’ circle out.

–Jeff Stein
The DNC Race Has Become Another Fight Over Bernie Sanders

Note that I referenced Stein’s article at the time, Keith Ellison and the Difficult Path Forward. I don’t have a problem with Perez as the DNC chair. My point of digging up this quote is simply to show that this would have been an easy token for the establishment wing of the party to make to the liberal wing. But it wasn’t even willing to do that — as I discussed in that article almost two months ago.