A few days ago I was reading the  interview Sarah Salway posted with Elizabeth Baines celebrating the publication of her new short story collection, Balancing on the Edge of the World.    You can read the full interview here.    Baines is a real find.  Her prose is pure poetry, and her characters feel like they are sitting in the room with you, as if you’ve known them forever. Each story strikes to your heart, whether you want it to or not. I really do recommend the collection.   And I recommend the interview.  It makes fascinating reading, but the one point which really intrigued me was the question of whether we writers “steal” our ideas or not.  I, for one, unashamedly believe that we do — or at least I do.  In some ways I feel like it is my job to steal.  I walk through my life noticing people, overhearing snippets of conversations, savouring other peoples’ words.  If you really attend to the world you live in, if you really are present within it, then you can’t help but take it all in.  But it is the writer’s job to then process all of it, churn it up, turn it inside out and go on to create something new from it, something that then becomes uniquely theirs.  The realities we create may be sometimes better or worse than the realities we already find around us, but certainly these creations are based on  what we have already stumbled upon.  Perhaps it’s more genteel to call it “standing on the shoulders of giants.”  But to me, it’s all stealing, it’s all appropriating something that started off belonging to someone else and claiming it as your own.   

And so, right at the top of this post is the video found and disseminated by the brilliant Ms. Salway herself.  Some of you may have seen it there.  But I urge everyone to take the time (ok — it’s about 18 minutes long but worth it!) to listen.  Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love (a book I reluctantly adored) discusses where genius comes from.  Her ideas are so fantastic, I’m going to steal every last one of them!