A young boy was tasked with a writing assignment. His teacher told him to write a paper on where writers get their ideas.
They read all sorts of authors in school. They were wizards and witches. Books about dinosaurs and talking animals. Books about the Wild West, Middle Ages, and magic tree houses.
He asked some of his friends. They didn’t know.
The little boy took the piece of paper home. They boy was lucky. Most of the kids would be writing to authors and journalists.
But, there happened to be a writer down the street from him, Mr. West. The boy knew he wrote books for kids and adults. He had even been to his school, and his parents had his books on their bookshelf.
He was an old man and lived on the last house on the lane. After his house, the street turned back into forest. The boy often passed the writer’s house to play in the woods with his friends.
Once home, he told his mother of his plan, and with her approval he he quietly plodded down the street to see Mr. West.
He rang the doorbell and an old man, with white hair and a short white beard answered the door.
“Kyle? What a surprise. What’s up?”
“Can I come in?”
The old man showed the boy to living room. The boy sat on the couch, and the old sat in a worn leather chair. There was a platter of cookies on the coffee table. Mrs. West’s cookies had quite the reputation in the neighborhood.
The boy eyed the cookies. Mr. West nodded, and the boy quickly grabbed one.
Mr. West smiled.
“So Kyle, what brings over here?”
Kyle was too immersed in is cookie and didn’t immediately answer.
“Oh!” he finally said, “In school, we have to contact our favorite author and ask them where their ideas come from.”
“So I’m your favorite author?”
The boy paused.
“Well, you’re the closest author.”
Mr. West laughed a laugh that could only brought about by a child’s candor.
“Well, you don’t pull any punches do you?”
“I’m not allowed to punch anyone I got un trouble last time.”
It elicited another laugh from Mr. West. “Now where do you think ideas come from?”
West turned and pointed to the bookshelf. “Most of those are books I’ve written.”
“That’s a lot.”
“I know,” Mr. West said, “do you think I had room in my head for all those ideas? My head’s not that big is it?”
West breathed a sigh of relief. He thought for sure he’d get a remark about the size of his head.
“Now, can you keep a secret?”
“Most of the time.”
“Works for me,” West said, “what if I told I knew exactly where ideas come from?”
“Well, that will make my paper easier.”
“You might want to wait to put it in your paper.”
“You’’ll see,” West said, “now have you ever had an idea? Like a really good idea, and then the next thing you know it’s gone? Just poof. You’ll never remember it.”
“Yeah all the time.”
“Just few minutes ago.”
The old man got up, “Follow me,” he said.
The old man led him to the front porch and reached into the mailbox. He pulled out a piece of. He handed the slip to the boy, and he looked at the old man with amazed eyes.
“This is the idea I had!”
“I know,” West said, “you happen to live on Idea Street. It’s where all the ideas end up that people forget. Each time it disappears, the idea will show up in that mailbox.”
“Wow. So this is where all you ideas come from?”
“Most of them.”
“Isn’t that cheating?”
The old man smiled, “well it’s my mailbox isn’t it?”