Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers


Letting the Imagination Lead

supernova-1183663_1920In addition to writing adult fiction and non-fiction, I also create pieces for children. Today, I tried to start a children’s story of a girl sleeping in an elegant dollhouse based on a dream image that has stayed with me.  But after a few sentences, I felt extremely critical of what I had written.  I had to stop…for now.  Let it breathe, I said to myself. Let the criticalness soften—fall away.

To inspire myself, I picked up Anne of Green Gables and began re-reading it.  Hearing the narrator talk about Green Gables itself, as well as Anne’s imaginativeness and pluck, moved me deeply. It reminded me of how important the imagination is to everyone. We need fictional (and non-fictional!) places like Green Gables to visit. Such explorations aren’t  just escapes but an extension of everyday reality.  In my context, Green Gables represents an innocent ideal that can also co-exist with the everyday activities.  Of course, it means a great deal to me that this story’s author happens to be a fellow Canadian—L. M. Montgomery.

Much of my motivation for writing stories, whether for children or adults, originates in the need to invent and investigate offbeat themes or topics. I love the “real,” the actual world we inhabit. But I also I love the surreal, what isn’t always apparent to the external eye. Creating such places helps me to transcend the everyday.  The potholes we get stuck in.  The bumps in the road. My ability to invent such worlds offers a glimpse into what lies beyond our ordinary daytime consciousness.

Without the imagination, we’re nothing.  I don’t think courage, will, or insight mean much without such visions, by which I mean the capacity to dream of better ways to live, to awaken to fresh scenarios.  To create out of our own imaginations something no one has seen before. New vistas.  Unlimited possibilities.

Anne’s feistiness and ability to use her imagination to survive also move me.  These tendencies allow her to endure awful circumstances as an orphan.  And it’s what allows me to return to the blank page/screen, even when my critical self claims I’m a terrible writer and should pack it up. I’ll continue to challenge this negative voice and dedicate myself to where my creative impulses lead me.

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