About 6 weeks ago I was on the phone with my friend Mia and we were talking about writing. We had some conversations about some of her writing projects which were pretty brief because she tends to speak about those things only in vague terms, at least with me. I actually understand that mentality quite well as when it comes to projects I might be involved in I keep things close to the vest. I use it as a way to manage expectations both for myself and those who might eventually see that project become a reality. Keep that in mind as you read this entry to the end.
Anyway, as part of that conversation I made an observation about myself. Essentially, I told Mia that I didn’t consider myself to be very imaginative. Where Mia has had several writing projects that she has either concluded, is currently working on or has at least developed a bit, I’ve never had any idea that I felt was even worth keeping alive for longer than five minutes.
I told her that I had never thought of myself as someone who could write fiction. If you read my blog, it is a blog where I talk about facts. I talk about how I’m doing, what I’m feeling, my personal history and current events. I give my opinion in book reviews but those are still grounded in logic and an expression of things that I like and dislike. Essentially, my blog is a work of nonfiction as have been all the other writing projects I have undertaken as an adult.
I believe that imagination comes in two forms. I will call them informative imagination and inventive imagination. As you will see when I describe them, these two types of imagination do tend to fuel one another and work in concert. However, I do believe that there are people who excel in one form more than the other.
I have been told that I am good at solving problems and at giving people advice. I call this informative imagination. If you give me either the right kind of information or an abundance of it, I can come up with some pretty creative solutions to problems or some pretty helpful advice.
The inventive imagination is the one that is more abundant in your artist types. The people who come up with an idea for a story and then worry about how plausable it is later, if they ever worry about it at all. I could never have come up with an idea for something like Star Wars because Star Wars was born of fantasy not of fact.
My perceived lack of inventive imagination goes a long way towards explaining why I was able to write my previous post. I consider things that are more than I consider things that could be.
Now, having said all that you should know that nobody is going to be as surprised as I am by the rest of this entry. Believe it or not, I have an idea. Okay, the fact that I have an idea is something that I hope isn’t a big surprise to anyone. The fact that this is an idea based in fiction is the part that surprises me a lot and might surprise you a bit.
I was sitting here in my recliner listening to a book on history when an idea popped into my head. It isn’t the idea of a specific story, at least not yet. But I did have an idea for a character.
I can picture this character clear in my head. I have an understanding of who they are, what they do and how they think. I can see a typical day in the life of my character.
I don’t exactly have a complete handle on the world in which my character lives. I imagine that it is a world with many similarities to our own but that is also quite different.
I see vague outlines of co-workers and acquaintances, perhaps even family. I don’t see friends but there is actually a specific reason for that. Even as I write this I am starting to see an adversary.
My character has some traits that are present in myself and that is how informative imagination can fuel inventive imagination. Yet there are also ways in which I could not relate to my character at all…and these are my inventive imagination running wild.
So now that I have a character, what am I going to do with them? I am going to develop that character. Get the personality and motivation down. I’ll develop their background and biography. I will not worry about a plot in the short-term. As the character develops I’m sure elements of a plot will hit me and I will make note of them.
But once I have established a biography I will share that with a few of my friends who do write fiction, including Mia. Perhaps one of them will either be able to help me pull the story out of my own mind or perhaps one of them will come up with a story idea and be willing to flesh it out together.
This is yet another example of why you should never say never. I thought it highly unlikely that I would come up with a character like this out of thin air. And yet, here we are.
You will notice that I have kept things vague. I have avoided using words that might give any hint about who my character is. I’ve said nothing about gender, name, occupation or beliefs. Believe me, I know who this person is in all of those regards but it still strikes me as a good idea to keep that to myself.