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Anything?

Updated on February 27, 2011
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Prolific and well-respected hubber, epigramman, told me a little while ago that he thought I might be able to write a hub about anything. Obviously, being a loon, I saw that as a challenge. The word 'anything' had a kind of appeal, and I needed to write that hub. But I did not jump to it right away, because I wanted to give it some thought, and see if I could come up with something worth writing.

My research has not been very searching, and I have used only a dictionary, a thesaurus and my meagre brain cells. I'll tell you what I found out. The word 'anything', when you look up its definition in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, contains an infinite amount of possibilities, and actually could be rather a powerful tool for the writer: 'Anything: def. a thing of any kind'.

Do you remember being at school, and having a supply teacher come in for your English lesson one Thursday afternoon? You might have thought of that teacher as rather lazy when they offered you the golden opportunity of writing a story or an essay about anything?* At the time you might have been dismayed at the thought of having to come up with your own idea. If you were given no parameters at all, the task might have seemed impossible at first. 'Anything' often causes us immediately to think of nothing. And every half idea that does manage to push through seems weak or dull and so is abandoned before it has even fully formed. You start to panic as the realisation creeps in that the task you have been presented with is just too big and too difficult. How is anyone supposed to be able to narrow anything down to one thing? You glance up at your classmates and notice that Milandra Sharpe (she's made up, I ain't never heard of no Milandra Sharpe), the school's budding authoress and winner of the Short Story Competition four years running, is scribbling away so fast that smoke is rising up from her page. What can she be writing about already? How can she have chosen a subject from the vast array of those available? Perhaps she hasn't actually grasped the enormity of, and the responsibility involved in the task. Any Thing. 'Any: def. one or some, no matter which; Thing: def. article, fact, item, object, affair, matter, subject, theme, topic, idea, importance, point, significance, thought, attribute, property, quality, event, incident, occasion, occurrence, phenomenon, proceeding, act, action, deed, feat, turn, apparatus, device, implement, instrument, machine, tool, belonging(s), effect(s), possession(s), animal, creature, person, hobby, pastime, preoccupation, fixation, hang-up, obsession.' In other words, you've not been asked to write about anything so much as EVERYTHING!

The pressure! How can one small and insignificant person write about everything in one fifty minute lesson? You are sweating and breathing heavily now, and your best friend who is sitting in the next seat nudges you and asks if you are okay. You scoff and roll your eyes and laugh a little maniacally. Of course you're not okay: you've just been asked to write about the whole of the universe, history, space, time and everything, and time, as it were, is running out. You glance down at your page, and your heart sinks as you see it staring back at you, blank and expectant, willing you to fill it with Everything, Anything, Something.

Aha! There it is. Your mind settles, snaps into sharp focus, on one tiny speck in space and time. You have had your idea, it has become Something. And at that point, it ceases to be Anything, for Anything cannot be Nothing once it has become Something, and Anything includes Nothing by reason of its being Everything, therefore a thing cannot be Something and Nothing at the same time.**

As a grown up writer, now able to apply a little common sense and calmness to the situation, you might well relish the opportunity to write about anything you fancy. Anything is the essence of writing, the essence of reading, and in essence, anything is the same as everything, if you want it to be. When you come onto HubPages you could literally find yourself reading about almost anything. Anything is the essence of imagination. Anything is possible, which means that everything is, in a literary sense.

And, it might seem like an enormous undertaking, to write about anything, but it is much easier than writing about Nothing. Now that is very difficult - do not lay that challenge before me.


*The story of the supply teacher is a very loose analogy, for the inclusion of which I apologise unreservedly. I'll be honest, I don't even think this has ever happened to me, and I've actually just made the whole thing up for the purposes of this hub (as if you didn't know, tut) Sorry.

**Again, I just made that up. I don't know what it means, and I think I contradict myself half way through, but since it's nonsense I don't suppose it really matters.

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    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I've been there and I know all about it.

      I was a supply teacher for a while and then a real grown up teacher, and guess who I had in my class. That's right; Milandra Sharpe. Definitely Milandra Sharpe except I think she changed her name to Jeanette Something-Orother. Posh little girl with a wet nose and national health glasses. No matter what Milandra/Jeanette was asked to write she would be head down, arse up immediately: scribble, scribble scribbling (but neatly, in lovely Copperplate) and within forty-five minutes she would be finished and there would be three and a half pages of neat crap about flowers and bunny rabbits and trees and nature and birds and clouds and all that stuff.

      And how? Jeanette/Milandra's Mummy, Mrs Something-Orother would have primed her over the breakfast table (muesli and soya milk) to write all that stuff.

      No matter what I asked them to write, she'd whack out this flowers and bunny rabbits and trees and nature and birds and clouds stuff, and somehow, it seemed easier to accept it and wait till home time.

      I only weighed them instead of marking them... seemed so less time consuming.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I knew it, I just knew it. My mind is greatly relieved to know that Milandra was producing regurgitated drivel - although, at least she was producing something, which is, of course, better than nothing. I wonder where Milandra is now - I'd love to know how she's getting on, and what she's done with her life. I expect she's writing for Woman's Own, or designing knitting patterns for dolls.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      She writes a Woman's column for "The Daily Mail".

      She also has a private charity for the protection of Fluffy Bunnies.

      I knew she had it in her.

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Hi My lady, that was a superb, funny, interesting, whacky, astute, cheesy, stylish, brilliant piece of creative writing. You 'will' write about 'nothing', because i am asking you to, and you and i know, now that first word is in front of you, the rest will become easy.(hopefully) When i went to my creative writing class, they gave us ten minutes to write about certain scenarios. I was pretty dumbstruck and wrote about six lines of crap. Another bloke, Milan Fozzdyke-Blake wrote three and a half foolscap pages, with fifty thousand characters, twenty thousand suspects and more plot twists than the mad mouse. But his writing was full of B grade ramblings. Milandra Sharpe could go on one or two adventures herself. I loved and hated her, a perfect scenario. You have twisted the pen a fair bit, now twist it a bit more, because it works beautifully. We can all rub, or hub off one another and raise the writing stakes in the process. So lets ROCK AND ROLL!!!!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Okay, I'll do it. Of course, you know that I wrote that there at the end so that someone would challenge me to do it, he he! Not sure it will be easy though, as 'nothing' is one huge concept to consider, considering that it's nothing. And that certainly is something. Oh my.

      Milan Fozzdyke-Blake sounds like he overworks his stories. I think your work is bound to be better than his - I can understand yours! Bet I wouldn't be able to make out of a word of MF-B's. He sounds like one crazy cat, he does.

      I was twisting my pen just now, and the cartridge came loose (I use a fountain pen sometimes) and I got my best pair of jeans all covered in ink. I'm blaming you for that.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Wonderful and interesting that you really worked and something positive came out of the challenge you encountered.Nice hub

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks very much for taking the time to say so crystolite.

      Linda.

    • profile image

      strawb 6 years ago

      I loved this hub because I love your wordsmithery - is that a word. You can so write about anything and nothing in particular. I find your writing very clever and amusing. I love your voice, it is very true.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I think it's quite similar to your writing actually. Your writing in your hub about 'Our Street' made me notice where I get a lot of my turns of phrase from, and my way of rambling on in a quaint and amusing style - you do it too. I think we're like the little villages of the writing world, you and I; if all writers were to be painted as houses, we would be thatched cottages, with ivy covered white-washed walls, and rambling roses growing around the trellis porch over the front door.

      http://hubpages.com/hub/Our-Street - is my mum's hub about the street she grew up on :) Read it, because it's lovely.

      Linda.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..well you just 'literally' did it - and I am so very proud of you - and it's literally a gift you have being what I call a 'writer's writer' ...... I would love to see you get a proper gig and workout with a professional organization like a newspaper or magazine - and thanks so much for the namecheck - you're starting to make me look good too - lol lol!

      Love your profile picture - it says - 'Look out world here I come ......"

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks epi, lots and lots. Well, you are fast becoming a mentor to me, and I'm always very proud when you comment on one of my hubs. I do appreciate your support and your encouragement - thought you deserved a namecheck :D

      I'm working on it, seriously, I would love to write for a magazine. Let ya know if it happens...

      Linda-Lou.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "Anything is the essence of imagination. Anything is possible, which means that everything is, in a literary sense." I just loved this. Excellent hub!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thank you so much Genna. It's nice when something just pops into one's head that seems worth writing down, isn't it?

      Linda.

    • profile image

      Aka Professor M 6 years ago

      After reading this hub I heartily approve of your most apt moniker, Lady Wordsmith! The wizardry of storytelling and the blending of humour, satirical inventiveness plus fine character development was exemplary. Superbly well done!

      My most well known and personal quote found many times on my blog is "Writing should be Fun! This hub shows that you have that quality and it shown through here!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Well thank you Professor. Though I think you have just taught me a thing or two about wordsmithery, you seem to be a master of expression yourself. I'm flattered by your comments.

      Linda.

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