Since the release of Bubble of Time I have done a number of author interviews and inevitably I get asked “what drives you to write?” or something very similar. And each time my answer has been basically along the same lines but limited by the amount of time I’ve had to think about it, a few minutes for a web post or split seconds for radio interviews. So for me and many other authors it has become the focus for navel gazing along with other important philosophical questions like “who am I?” “why am I here?” and “why have I just spilt cold coffee all down my front?”
So, having given it some serious thought, what does drive me to write? A need to express myself? A need to be heard in a crowd? A desire to entertain others? It’s certainly not for fame and fortune. Whilst success stories of indie writers making it big are common, they are in a very small minority. True, my aim is to make a living out of writing… eventually…hopefully, but that is not it either. I have found that my desire to write comes from a much more fundamental and arguably the greatest gift that mankind has, our imagination.
“Greatest gift!” I hear you scoff. “Surely that is the arts, literature, music, learning, science, our technology, our faith in god or gods [delete as appropriate] or simply our capacity to love?”
No, it is our imagination. Imagination features heavily in my second book, Quest in Time, so it is something I have thought a lot about. Without our imagination all our great works of art, be they from the impressionist, the cubists or even graffiti artists would look like photographs. It is the imagination which drives everything from the interpretation of what the artist sees and the style in which he or she paints to the very colours and brushstrokes that they use. It is the imagination of the artist that fills countless galleries and adorns our walls, from the cave paintings of our ancestors to a Banksy mural. [Love him or hate him, I particularly like his “Follow your Dreams” picture.]The same arguments apply to all of the creative arts, including music and literature. No? Then why dose a piece of classical music come alive when played by orchestra ‘A’ by conductor ‘B’ but not when conductor ‘C’ is leading the same orchestra? Why is a story sometimes dull and boring when read from the page but brought to life when read to you by the right person? Why is Shakespeare so dull until you learn how to listen to and interpret it?
So what about science, learning and technology? Surely they are based in hard facts and reality? Imagination can play no part in them. Just think about it for a moment, the very basis for science is the scientific method. The Collins English Dictionary defines the scientific method as “a method of investigation in which a problem is first identified and observations, experiments, or other relevant data are then used to construct or test hypotheses that purport to solve it”. It is our imagination that identifies the problem, derives the experiments and allows us to form a hypothesis. And we learn from these hypotheses and trial and error driven by our ability to imagine a way around a problem. As for technology, well how often have you heard “were waiting for someone to dream up the next big thing”? Every single piece of technology and science was imagined by someone before it became fact or reality.
Religion? I think that more or less answers itself, and I don’t want to debate too much on whose imaginary friend is best. I acknowledge that I am not religiously minded now though I once was, and I understand the deep need to believe in something greater than ourselves and do not wish to convert others to my way of thinking. However, all religion is based on belief and faith. We imagine there to be a divine being or beings [again delete as appropriate], some greater power and or ultimate plan for us all which allows us to believe as strongly as many do.
And lastly, although perhaps fundamentally, love. Perhaps my thoughts on this will cause even more arguments than my brief musings on religion. Love is perhaps the single most difficult thing to describe. Partly because one word describes so many different kinds of love. I think this is where the Inuit have the advantage with their three hundred words to describe snow [alright I excaudate but you get my point]. There is love for a partner, for a sibling, a parent, an offspring, a friend etc. etc. etc.
But these are all based on our desire to be in a world where that person exists. We subconsciously imagine how much better life is when we are with that person. Then once we are in orbit around that person we then subconsciously imagine how bad life would be without them and that drives our longing to be with them always. If we are away from them then we imagine how good it will be when they return. Yes I’m oversimplifying but this could go on for pages and pages.
To sum up, everything we do or feel is derived from our imagination, which is why I think it is so important and strongly dislike anything that tries to take it away from us. It is our most powerful tool and our greatest asset. So far I have been lucky, I have never sat staring at a blank page and had nothing to fill it with. True, I may write a page of drivel [as many of you will think this is] or be in the wrong head state to be able to write what I want to write, but I allow my imagination to take me where ever it wants and try and share the best bits in my writing. I write to fire my own imagination and, by extension, hopefully other peoples.
As always I am genuinely interested to hear your thoughts and comments.
Be safe and let your imagination be free,