I've learned as a gardener not to be overly zealous when weeding. I appreciate the wild look to my gardens; I even enjoy the smattering of flowers that have spread to parts of my yard where I never planted them. I thank the birds, the wind and the occasional seed I tossed aside in hopes it would take root next year. Flowers sprout up between the rocks around my gardens, others have taken root beneath my brick patio. And I'm fine with that. Their presence lends a whimsical twist to my yard. I have astors, Russian sage, snap dragons and lupines growing where I never suspected anything would grow. They reseeded themselves! I relate this to letting my imagination wander, wondering ... hmmm, what would happen if ...
And so it is with being a writer. I try not to squash the tiniest, abstract, even weirdest idea. I'm in the middle of revising my sci-fi novel right now and I realized I had been visualizing descriptions in my mind that I had yet to transfer completely to paper. I wasn't disillusioned, quite the contrary. I was elated part of my mind had kept focusing on details while the other part had been traipsing through dialogue and conflict.
Do you stockpile words in your mind? I used to have a compost pile in our barnyard just for our garden. Now we throw everything from weeds to wood into the burn pile. Then on a calm day, when all is dried out, we set the whole thing on fire. My stockpile of words is a little different. My gathering is catergorized, usually descriptive words; a stack of sweet, endearing ones and then the larger leering interjections of dark gasps, heart thumping twisters with vivid images. Seems I'm always searching for just the right word. And I'm amazed when I let my imagination grow and wander on its own, up pops the word I needed. I love that.
Of course, a Thesaurus works too. The point is don't settle for ordinary. A good writer discovers a new way of expressing herself with each story she tells. My gardens remain in the same place in my yard, but every year they look different. They are ever shifting, changing and developing into fuller, brighter pieces of artwork. Writing needs to grow and mature as well. I don't want to write the same stories I've already written; I want to discover something more, deeper, even if I write about the same character in my next book.
I want my characters to bloom! The only way they can do that is by letting go. I give my imaginary friends free reign to wander and plunder into pitfalls I would never have come up with if I hadn't let my imagination run wild. I've written my characters into impossible situations, then dream a way to a better place. It not only makes for a page turner in my imagination, but also creates a great adventure for my readers.
My characters may be rooted in my mind, but with a heavy dose of imagination, they can bloom right into reality.
Til next time ~