What is a writer without imagination? It is the font of creativity, the well-spring of art that keeps us moving in a dry, dry world. Reality may lend forms to what we drink, but the imagination – the imagination breathes detail into those shapes. As Emily Dickinson once wrote, “The Possible’s slow fuse is lit by the imagination.” Such a beautiful thing to comprehend.
Which is why I am always curious when a head cocks at the sound of what I do. I write, I say, and I see the eyebrow arch. I enjoy the fantastic. Fiction. Fantasy. Their heads shake and I hear the words, “Why not write something real? Something substantial? Non-fiction is the bread and butter…” And I smile, just a bit, at the concept. They scorn it because of the lack of “real value” to the world. Real value? My goodness, how do we even begin to define…is not the power of the human imagination, the power to showcase how far that human thought can reach, not worth documentation? Every bit of writing employs imagination, to an extent. Fiction or non-fiction – those are merely scales of extent.
Even non-fiction has details we fill in. Auto-biographies, narrated years after the fact, might embellish a detail for the storytelling, reflect on events long gone and add a line, here or there, that prod at the curiosities of our own imagination. They pursue thought, not merely deeds.
As I get closer to releasing my first fantasy novel, though, it is a curious thing to reflect on – this concept of imagination, and where it stands in our society. So much fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and what you will flood the market, yet all too often you hear those calls for structure, for the sensible, for the restriction of the imaginative from sources populating that same reality. The disconnect astounds me.
But that leads me to a few new quotes for this week, revolving around that sense of the imagination, and the creativity it walks with hand-in-hand:
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
“They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~Henry David Thoreau