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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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