Now that John Lennon’s iconic song is probably running through your mind, I will start by stating I’ve always been fascinated with the imagination. To think that trips to the Moon and Mars started in the imagination. Oh I know that linear algebra, differential equations, and single variable/multivariable calculus played a role. But imagination paved the way.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The imagination is a muscle that must be exercised” or words to that effect. When I searched for that saying via Google, I found it attributed to several people, including Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. So while I don’t really know who said it first, I can see the truth in it.
In an increasingly visual-oriented culture, exercising the imagination can be challenging with so many images, videos, TV shows, and movies available.
Please hear me: I am not against these items. They are greatly appreciated. But a viewer doesn’t have to put much effort into imagining how a character looks if that character is shown to him or her on the screen. And I know that some characters differ from book to screen. If you read a book before seeing an adaptation, you might have a different picture in your head concerning a character, despite what the screen shows. But for me, even if I have actively pictured a character in my mind, seeing that character in a film adaptation changes the landscape of my imagination. Case in point: nowadays, whenever I read The Lord of the Rings, I always picture Frodo as Elijah Wood, who played him in Peter Jackson’s trilogy though I first read the trilogy many years before those movies debuted. This is not an indictment against Elijah, who was excellent as Frodo. But now, I find I can’t “unsee” him and picture Frodo on my own.
Reading plays a large part in refueling my imagination. Good stories give my mind a needed workout. Whenever I’m in a reading slump, my imagination shrivels. As a further consequence, I’m never fully satisfied with any fiction I attempt. Though I am creating my own world in my stories and not trying to copy anyone else’s, I still need the mental exercise I gain by traveling through the worlds others create. And yes, realistic fiction counts as creating a world, because you have to make the world we know vivid enough to engage a reader.
What fuels your imagination?
Nicki, you don’t have to imagine yourself holding a copy of Big Rig by Louise Hawes—at least not for long (click here for that interview), because soon you will do so in reality! Please comment below to confirm.
Thank you to all who commented.
Imagination image by L. Marie. Elijah Wood as Frodo photo found somewhere on Pinterest.