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Someone once told me a writer should act like a key which opens the door to another world.
While I rather like the analogy it’s my understanding that a writer needs to do more than simply provide a key. Having means to unlock a door simply isn’t enough; you need something to tempt the reader inside. A photograph is a flat rendering of a captured scene but we trust its reality. However, engaging with a story isn’t simply a matter of ‘beam me up Scottie’ and you arrive in another time and place, stories require you to step inside the world of imagination.
Scary thing imagination.
Writing is an infinitesimal spell created out of words and wonder, therefore entering a story requires a certain leap of faith. No matter how well written, or finely observed, nothing in a book will live if the imagination doesn’t commit wholeheartedly to its magic.
Therefore, I believe, the business of writing stories is tantamount to being a magician who conjures with imaginings – an imagineer.
Without imagination not merely stories die, imagining provides a ratchet to our soul.
It isn’t so much dancing in the rain as feeling the water on your face and not getting wet. Isn’t that truly magic?
Why do people read – it isn’t as if it’s compulsory, at least not once you’ve abandoned school for the real world. And yes I do know some people who will do anything to avoid reading and blame it on lack of time. It seems fair to say we are bombarded with information without the need to resort to books. Yet some of us still prefer to read, to actually explore the words as written on a page, and imagine….
It isn’t as though reading comes naturally. Cave men began with pictures; language and writing are relatively recent in evolutionary terms. And there are some races who never took to writing, like the Celts, who still blame Anglo Saxons for inventing it as a tool of state. Celtic people embrace the old ways – stories told in company, by a professional storyteller. What’s not to like about gathering around a roaring fire with a beaker of ale (or whisky even) listening to what might have been?
But nowadays the medical profession is constantly willing us to exercise more and be couch potatoes less. I say disregard the dangers and read anyway. In the real world you only live once but delve into fiction and you can live a hundred lives.
And if you operate in a time-hungry ethos try reading short stories (particularly flash fiction). You might manage a reading break without feeling guilty? What wealth there is in imaginings.