Even the word starts your brain ticking. So many times I’m told that I have a wonderful imagination, and where do I come up with the things I do? My answer is generally an impotent “I dunno, it just happens.” But imagination, the mind’s eye, is such an important part of life, that it surprises me we don’t spend more time cultivating it.
Here’s an experiment. For the next couple of minutes push the concept of “blue” out of mind. No blue. Just try it. Blue is not there.
I mean, look at your pets. They need you, they want you and yet, you are the one responsible for interpreting their movements into full-blown human thought. You have to “read” them and tell others that “Kona likes to take me for a walk” when you have no idea why the dang mutt drags you everywhere the second you slap on his leash.
Did you see Kona as the blue-black lab that is a neighbor’s dog? But I told you NOT to think of blue.
Or how about that age old question, “Why are you late — AGAIN?” Immediately, your mind has to come up with something plausible that will get you off the hook. Hello imagination.
I reached for my copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing” when I started this post, because I remember that he has a wonderful example about how telepathy can be proved. He uses the words, printed on a book page, to communicate with you about an image of a box, a bird and something else that I can’t remember (maybe it’s something blue). But when he’s done, you really see the image, maybe not exactly the same as he, but close enough for communication between two minds, without a single word spoken. What a cool concept.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the specific example. I got lost in quick dives into some of his other marvelously insightful thoughts. That’s why I’m late writing this morning (at least this works as my excuse).
Another thing about imagination is that you can use it to caricature your world. I mean, how long has it been since you read any of Dr. Seuss’s great books? Forget the charges of sexism and just enjoy the ride! He starts Sally and me in a perfectly normal house, but by the end of the story, we accept the wildest things that the Thing 1 and Thing 2 can do.
I believe that when you write, you do want to be honest, but the kind of honesty we readers are looking for is so in-your-face that only someone with real imagination can pull it off. We have to stretch ourselves as writers to come up with stories worth remembering, so instead of starting a load of blue-jeans in a wash, we have to dump in so much soap that the machine starts to rattle on it’s legs, bubbles pour out the top and suddenly I Love Lucy is crying somewhere. All this, just to make sure our readers remember that our heroine doesn’t like to wear blue-jeans.
When we go over the top with our imaginations, we create memories for our readers. Those memories can then magically mix with other memories of books, television shows, and personal experiences to help each person grow, learn and be the biggest person possible.
We plant a seed with each story we write, and if planted in a mind prepped with a fertile imagination, our story has the chance to influence and help others. So go out and imagine the possibilities.
And then write a story…an honest story…an over-the-top and in-your-face story about something blue.
Then send me your story of 100 words or less. I’d love to hear from you.