China Mieville’s “Leave an Idea, Take an Idea”: A Wiki of Potentiality

Jeff VanderMeer • June 19th, 2009 @ 6:55 am • Culture

Yes, yes, I know, you weak bastards. Yer totally sick of China Mieville. “Why, I don’t know if I have it in me to pick up the book now, because his voice is in my head and I don’t like what it’s telling me to do…”

Anyhoo…do go and check out his latest guest blogging post at Omnivoracious, because it’s quite wonderful and full of great stuff. “But he’s pullin’ a Tom Sawyer, he is,” you say. “He’s gettin’ others to paint the fence.” No, no–that’s just China Ubiquity Fatigue (CUF) talking. This truly is some very cool stuff. Even Evil Monkey agrees.


It’s melancholy when you realise there are more things you’d like to do, or write, than you’ll have time to, in your entire life. The endless triage of decent thoughts is necessary, a bit miserable, and a strong argument for the desirability of immortality. You cling even to the ones you doubt you’ll start, as long as you can bear, just in case you find the time you know you won’t.

But there’s another category of ideas, a bit less frustrating, slightly more confusing, and necessitating a different response. These are those that are really, in one’s own humble opinion, decent, with a potentially great audience, and without question worthy of pursuing…but that you know you’d mess up. If you even had time to start.

5 Responses to “China Mieville’s “Leave an Idea, Take an Idea”: A Wiki of Potentiality”

  1. Steve Buchheit says:

    That idea sounds strangely familiar.

  2. Felix Gilman says:

    my ideas are mine, all mine, I will hoard them till my dying day and be buried with them like a Pharoah with his servants

  3. Steve Buchheit says:

    Hmm, see now I’m re-envisioning “The Mummy” (whichever movie version you prefer), only instead of coming back to take over the world, he comes back to finish typing his masterpiece. But can only use an Underwood.

  4. Alex Carnegie says:

    ‘Indiana Jones & The Curse of Gilman’s Tomb’

    Those dastardly Nazis/Commies/Cultists (delete as applicable) have turned their sights away from literal world domination toward literary world domination and are set on plundering the Fantasy Writing Secrets of the Ancients. Only one whip-wielding, snake-abhorring archaologist can stop them!

  5. Alex Carnegie says:

    By the way, I think the Ideas in Abundance anthology is an amazing idea. Inspired by rereading certain sections of ‘House of Leaves’ (Jonny & Lude’s bar bullshitting) I had an idea recently for a sort of New Arabian Nights wherein we’re set a central framing narrative (the original or an “updated version”) and each writer must come up with another story from the starting point given them by the previous. Perhaps this might come in micro/flash fiction form and involve a hundred and one writers…? An exercise in communal, improvisational storytelling. Might also work as a (potentially neverending) Internet thread.

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