No creative work is based on ideas? Creative work grows from some vital principle, some indefinable urge, which may seem to involve ideas, or the feelings they provoke. A whole class of literate, intelligent people who are not writers have a tendency to hit on a “wonderful idea” for a play, a poem, or a story. They may feel that such an idea has a generative force that would create a masterpiece, if only . . . But the trouble is that the “idea” in question is often as self-contained as a bubble, exists for its own sake, and refuses to generate anything. Where a play or a novel can be said to be based on one overmastering idea (and it can’t be said so very often) it may well be that the idea was the last thing arrived at, something incidental to what the writer was groping for and couldn’t really see or articulate until the fabric as a whole was completed.


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