Writers are Ghosts

20131225_3-2Moon set in North Alabama…with lone bird.

Even though Halloween is closing in, this isn’t a Halloween ghost kind of thing. First, I should clarify one thing. I’m not talking about being a “Ghostwriter.” We all know what that is and how it works. No, I’m talking about the relationship we as writers have with that “other place” the territory of the imagination—peopled by imaginary folk. Imaginary folk who talk to other imaginary folk, and we, invisible to them all, write down what they say and what they do.

We take note of their feelings and their environment. We follow them even into their most intimate moments. At times we become so involved we lose all sense of our own individuality. We don’t see the world around us. We don’t hear the clock ticking. We don’t smell the coffee.

I would like to suggest that we don’t “lose” ourselves, so much as we “insinuate” ourselves into that other place to such an extent that we are no longer “here.” We are “there.”

This intrusion, as it were, is not unwelcomed. In fact, it is desired. How many times have we had to “go back” and rewrite a scene because we “had it wrong?” How many times have you ignored a character only to have that person “demand” to be recognized? How many times have we wakened at 3:11 am and scrambled for a notepad to write down a word, a phrase, a snatch of conversation? How many times indeed.

You might say, well this happens too when I read. Of course it does. And when you write, are you not the first reader? When you write, as opposed to reading, it is your own small world, not someone else’s. And that world has chosen “you” to write it into existence. That’s amazing. Faulkner once responded to a question regarding the act of writing. “I trot along behind my characters and write down what they say.”

So, so, so.

This imagined world, what Wallace Stevens called the “Supreme Fiction” is a miracle. It isn’t a human invention; it is a human ability, and we must treasure it. When you become depressed or sad or melancholy over your unfinished work or your current draft, step away! Step back and give yourself a round of applause. Walt Whitman celebrated himself every day and then wrote a long poem about it. Sing your own Song of Yourself. You can do what not many people can do—albeit, it’s frustrating at times, but nevertheless, it is a miracle of sorts. Your “other” self has “access”—why? Hell I don’t know. But it does, and how grateful we should be for that ability.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you feel to be the relationship between imagination and reality.

 

34 thoughts on “Writers are Ghosts

  1. Sha'Tara

    As I’ve said, written, and explained many times, in “my” world there is no difference between “this” particular reality we refer to as the physical/material and any other reality. All is real, and I never question any of it. All that needs to be remembered, and is so often ignored by proselytizers and bigots, is that reality is a different thing for every different mind and that is what gives life its vibrancy and unpredictability.

    Liked by 3 people

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  2. Tina Williams

    “Sing your own Song of Yourself.” I love that. We writers can be so hard on ourselves. The very act of writing can be a spiritual thing, a creative act that is worth celebrating. Thanks for this great post.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Paul Post author

      And thank you for reading. Yeah, sometimes I believe we’re just too hard on ourselves, as we plod through what is already a hard world! We miss not only a good bit of beauty all around us but also within us–that wonderful thing called imagination!

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Moushmi Radhanpara

    I can totally relate. I don’t know how many times I have woken up in the middle of the night just to write down some though so that I don’t forget it the other day. And all the talking with ‘The other’; well for me it never ends. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post which I could not only relate to but also was so different from what we usually read.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. sepultura13

    I relate all too well…I get very immersed in the world of the “others!” Sometimes, it’s a nicer place than “out here,” I’d say…
    Great post! Yes, we definitely have to step back and applaud ourselves, as there are already so many critics out there – so cheers to we who create the worlds that others want to enter!
    😎

    Liked by 3 people

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  5. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

    Reality and imagination…well, they overlap without our planning on it, or even seeing it. Memory, we know, tricks us because we observe and absorb in such a complex and subjective manner. So it isn’t surprising that it is the same way with writing, I suppose. Who is to say which comes first, sometimes–the embroidering of mind/spirit or the 3D world and all its splendors and tricks? We are fortunate indeed. We can have it all, or as much as we know how to engage and explore….Good post.

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

    Reality and imagination…well, they overlap without our planning on it, or even seeing it. Memory, we know, tricks us because we observe and absorb in such a complex and subjective manner. So it isn’t surprising that it is the same way with writing, I suppose. Who is to say which comes first, sometimes–the embroidering of mind/spirit or the 3D world with all its splendors and tricks? We are fortunate indeed. We can have
    it all, or as much as we know how to engage and explore….Good post.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  7. Sweta Ojha

    All of us who write are the personified version of that thin line that exists between imagination and reality. That is what I believe in and that is why I love this post.
    I believe there’s so much to learn as a blogger from this wonderful community and I’m surely going to benefit myself by reading such articles. Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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  8. Karina Pinella

    I like how you provided another perception or definition of “ghost writing.” Or, at least using those two words and talking about from another angle. I agree that we do conjure up worlds in our imagination. We channel such thoughts and write them, we are like messengers. We might also actually be influenced by certain ghosts of our friends or strangers, if I may go that route, and be literal about this thought. You know how it feels, sometimes when something comes to you, you write them down and then read to see what surprises have come out.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for the thoughtful response. The idea of “messenger” is very intriguing. It seems to me that the pathways to writing even the simplest thing are infinite. I love it. Thank you again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Ink 'em Down

    Amazing post! Can totally relate with losing myself in the story I create and “trotting behing my characters”. I love that quote from Faulkner. And yes, Whitman is totally right about us celebrating ourselves 😀

    Liked by 3 people

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  10. designwithflair

    Imagination is key! Lovely post!!! Sometimes I wish I could write fiction…other times I’m like ‘nope don’t go down that path’. Writers are so awesome…must be tricky to stay in the now whilst writing in that realm.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. And thanks for reading! 🙂

      I like your writing. I just finished reading your latest blog but haven’t the time to respond. I will later, but that’s to say: you have a very interesting and talented voice. Keep the blog going…it might lead you somewhere unexpected! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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  11. Rachel McKee

    Hi Paul, I love hearing your thoughts on writing. I love this line so much, ” When you write, as opposed to reading, it is your own small world, not someone else’s. And that world has chosen “you” to write it into existence. That’s amazing.”

    Liked by 2 people

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  12. Simply-Me

    Lovely read.
    I believe it’s amazing to et away from reality and dwell in the world of imagination.
    It’s beautiful to create your own characters and storylines.

    I think sometimes we look for story characters in real life too.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      Oh most definitely. I think the physical we move through day by day is made even more real through our imaginative efforts. Of course, we don’t want to go too far with that…as Emily Dickinson said…then “they handle you with a chain.” But you know, I believe people such as ourselves experience richer lives as a result of our active and vibrant imaginations. Where someone may see only a dull scene, we see truth and beauty.
      Thank you so much for your interesting insight.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Sha'Tara

        I may not see “truth and beauty” (at least not most of the time) but I certainly see through the offerings designed strictly for the physically sighted. That’s why Matrix “teachers” denigrate imagination – they fear and hate those places where they can’t follow.

        Liked by 1 person

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