June 1, 2006
Liz published this at 7:18 pm
Yesterday, Joe of Working at Home on the Internet reminded me of my days going to press runs, when he was talking about his experience as a printer.
Immediately my mind flashed to this story.
I was in the car with my friend KB on the way to a press run. We’d worked 12 weeks straight living in the Marriott New York East Side. Now we’d flown into Chicago and were driving into one of the suburbs. She was driving. I was looking out the window. I was taking in all of the signs of the restaurants and stores as we passed by them.
Then, suddenly out of the blue I heard, “Will you . . . .SHUT UP!”
It seems I had been reading every sign out loud.
“I don’t really need you to read me every sign we pass,” she said. “What was that?”
“Sorry,” I said. “Fodder.”
You see, we had turned off the interstate, and we were nearing our hotel. I knew once we got there, the next thing on the agenda would be for us to find a decent restaurant. I’m not the best one for them picking out. I always feel like I have too many choices and not enough information. So I had been using the ride in to collect data.
It’s the same process for collecting data for future ideas. I call it finding fodder. Answers. com offers three definitions for fodder . . . One applies more than the others.
Feed for livestock, especially coarsely chopped hay or straw.
Raw material, as for artistic creation.
A consumable, often inferior item or resource that is in demand and usually abundant supply: romantic novels intended as fodder for the pulp fiction market.
Whenever I go anywhere alone, I spend a good deal of time just taking in what I see, knowing that later when I need ideas that raw material will come back to me. I read words. I look at details. I imagine store fronts as blog pages. I wonder how they got put together and how the idea came to be. Then I continue on my way.
A few months later when something related comes up, one of those store fronts will represent itself from my fodder database, just when I need it. It works like that story about us driving to the hotel. It came to mind when I was thinking about writing something about fodder.
If you consciously place details and ideas in your head for future reference. They have a way of bubbling up just when you need them. We’ve already talked about the scientific reasons for that. Everywhere I go, I’m off finding fodder. It’s productive and keeps me wondering.
Ever had something pop up from your mental database like that?
–ME “Liz” Strauss