Human Writes: The one that got away
In memory of all the great ideas that never became stories | Non-Fiction | Fresh Soup
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in a literary event in Milan. It was held in an ancient palace in the center of town, and like many Italian cultural events, it was dripping with style. There is no better place to feel sartorially inferior than Milan, the international capital of fashion. My first thought when I walked into the auditorium was that, out of the two-hundred people present, I seemed to be the only one wearing an unpressed shirt and crumpled pants. My attempt to look neater and better-shaven than I really was provided just enough momentum for me to lose my balance and trip in a particularly loud and embarrassing way, just as I was walking onstage. I got up quickly, grinned, and limped over to the armchair in the middle of the stage. My knee was throbbing but I was careful not to show it. Surprisingly, but not unfamiliarly, it was precisely at that embarrassing and painful moment that I was struck by a wonderful idea for a short story. What I usually do in these situations is jot down the idea on my phone. But, having arrived at the distinguished event in crumpled clothes, and having clumsily stumbled on the stage, I felt that to pull out my phone and tinker with it in front of all those people who had put some effort into their appearance and were clearly handling gravity better than I was, would be a bit too much. So instead, I decided to commit the idea to memory and write it down when the event was over. Except that by the time I’d answered the sharp Italian interviewer’s challenging questions, my brain no longer held any trace of the idea that seventy-five minutes earlier had flooded my mind and felt like the gateway to an incredible, unique story.