Exploring the Imagination

The Power of Imagination. Image by DP Studios and Wallpapers on Web.

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.

Henry David Thoreau. Image care of Wikimedia Commons.

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.”
~Theodore Geisel

“They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.” 
~Francis Bacon

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” 
~Henry David Thoreau

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9 thoughts on “Exploring the Imagination

  1. Great post! One of my favorite quotes about imagination, and also is the tagline of my blog, reads: “Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality” ~ Jules de Gaultier.

    There is no life without imagination, and it’s the one thing someone can never take away from you. Thanks for writing this post because it helped me get inspired for my NaNo novel! 🙂

    • Nice! I’ll have to add that one to my collection (it’s fairly overflowing at this point). I quite agree – imagination adds so much more of an interesting quality to life…but while no one can truly take it away, it’s sad that so many of us do choose to *give it up*.

  2. Loved this write Chris, participating in NaNoWriMo this year is certainly tapping on all creative doors within me…a good time for me to read this! ~ Rose

  3. Very good post. I always feel a tug between imagination and memory, but as you point out (and as I’ve learned increasingly as I age), even “non-fiction” has big elements of imagination. K.

  4. I like the idea of “writing as thinking”…adding imagination to that definitely fuels creativity. So glad to have you visit my site…glad to find yours. My Best, joni

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