Simone Weil once said, “Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.” If imagination and fiction are such an intricate part of our lives, why are we so afraid to imagine?
I can hear many of you arguing that we’re not afraid., that we imagine things all the time. And yes, sometimes we do, but too often we don’t.
Picture a new writer sitting in her cold basement and writing on a computer for which they don’t make spare parts anymore. While the kids are gone to school and the husband is at work, she indulges her passion for writing–her secret passion for writing. If a friend calls her, she’ll say she’s busy doing housework. If her mom phones, she’ll say she was exercising. Why is she afraid to admit she’s writing?
Well… How do we call a woman who spends her days imagining stories in her head? Planning the perfect date with a dashing young lover that is more athletic, more romantic and twenty years younger than her husband? Plotting the perfect murder of a wicked mother-in-law? Delving into the mind of an arsonist?
Once past the shock of her wandering mind, we’d call her a writer, of course, though some might be tempted to add a few adjectives to complement the word writer.
Remember what Simone Weil said we do 75% of the time? After a while, that poor writer would inevitable start having contact with other people like her…people who spend the remaining 25% imagining a different life for people who don’t exist.
We all know how much the support of our fellow writers mean for us. They support us, they encourage us, they guide us…
Can you imagine how easier it would have been for that writer if she had had access to all those wonderful people at the beginning of her journey? But no, she was afraid, so she walked the first stretch alone. But now that she has her writing friends, she can’t imagine a life without them.
Let’s look at our poor writer a few years later. She goes to her first conference with a brand new manuscript, some business cards, a synopsis she spent more time on that the story itself and a one-page. Poor writer had no idea what a one-page was until one of her newly found writer friends told her that she couldn’t imagine going to the conference without that essential piece of information.
By the way, when I say poor, I mean it in every sense of the word, because until you publish that novel you do stay poor.
For days before that conference, our poor writer imagines all those authors, and publishers, and agents…and she becomes a nervous wreck. So, what happens at the conference? She becomes afraid they won’t like her story, or her style…or her shoes. She can’t remember her pitch line, let alone her name or the title of her story.
By now, you may have started to wonder, if you’re still reading, what my point is. There’s a quote from Leo Buscaglia that I love, “Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God.”
Just imagine how we could develop all those talents if we didn’t let fear, doubts or any other obstacles hold us back.
Great potential live within all of us, so let’s start imagining what we can do…and let’s reach for it.
Closet writers–Imagination is a wonderful and powerful tool. Use it wisely and proudly.
Conference goers—Imagine the possibilities and grabbed them with both hands. And don’t forget to have fun!