Moon 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.