The Imagination = Fountain of Youth

“Logic will get you from point A to point B, but imagination will take you everywhere” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of imagination not just as a writer and reader but also as a survival tool. And I wonder how and when this faculty first appeared. Of course, when discussing imagination, creativity is not far behind, for the two are handmaidens. The imagination needs our creative abilities to be realized, and, to be fully creative, one needs imagination. Continue reading “The Imagination = Fountain of Youth”

What’s the big deal about the Imagination?

Imagination is such an important part of our work as creators, whether we’re writers, visual artists, musicians, and more. However, it isn’t enough just to have imagination, but it also needs to be educated, refined, and developed, like any faculty.  I could have a bent for playing the piano or singing, but nothing much will come of it without practice, lessons, and moving up through the levels. Continue reading “What’s the big deal about the Imagination?”

Language and its mysterious relationship to us

5d9cf373-e31c-400e-9fe0-1655625ab9b2My husband and I got into a discussion of poetry and our different approaches to it. His training is in new criticism. Mine embraces more contemporary work, though I’m eclectic and like many different styles, including John Ashbery’s method of disjointed narrative. My husband recognizes I’m onto something that Melville was alluding to in Moby Dick—the gap between language and what it tries to depict…how language organizes and creates our way of seeing. Continue reading “Language and its mysterious relationship to us”

Is Imagination the central pivot of human life?

I’m realizing that we take the imagination for granted. It isn’t enough to have imagination, but it needs to be recognized, educated, refined, and developed, just like any faculty.  I could have a bent for playing the piano or singing, but nothing much will come of it without practice, lessons, and traversing the various levels involved in becoming a skilled musician. These musings have led to today’s blog post on this subject. Continue reading “Is Imagination the central pivot of human life?”

In Defense of Fiction: Is It Appropriate to Appropriate?

typewriter-801921_1920During a radio interview with Kate Raphael of KPFA’s Women’s Magazine, she asked me if I worried about being accused of appropriation because I’m writing about cultures/characters that aren’t my own. We were discussing my novel, Curva Peligrosa. Curva is originally from Southern Mexico. Another character, Billie One Eye, is half Blackfoot and half Scottish. They feature prominently in this book. Continue reading “In Defense of Fiction: Is It Appropriate to Appropriate?”

The Imagination = Fountain of Youth

“Logic will get you from point A to point B, but imagination will take you everywhere” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of imagination not just as a writer and reader but alsthe-background-1911648_1920o as a survival tool. And I wonder how and when this faculty first appeared. Of course, when discussing imagination, creativity is not far behind, for the two are handmaidens. The imagination needs our creative abilities in order to be realized, and to be fullycreative, one needs imagination. Continue reading “The Imagination = Fountain of Youth”

An ode to the imagination!

the-background-1911648_1920I tried to get started today on a children’s story of a girl sleeping in an elegant dollhouse, an image I had in a dream awhile back that has stayed with me.  But I felt extremely critical of what I wrote.  I had to stop…for now.  Let it breathe. Let the criticalness soften—fall away. Continue reading “An ode to the imagination!”

Fairy tales rock!

narrative-794978_1920From the time I learned how to read, fairy tales, the world of mythos, nourished me and fed my curiosity about life and the world. My parents had purchased a set of the Books of Knowledge, wonderful, fat red volumes that I browsed whenever I had the chance.  At the center of each book was a special section of nursery rhymes, folk, and fairy tales.  They were the heart of each encyclopedia, and I believe they continue to be the heart of literature.  The heart of civilization.  All of the archetypes show up there: the good/bad mother; the helpful/deceitful trickster; the caring/unfeeling king. And so many more. Continue reading “Fairy tales rock!”

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. Continue reading “Letting the Imagination Lead”

In Defense of Fiction: Is It Appropriate to Appropriate?

typewriter-801921_1920During a recent radio interview with Kate Raphael of KPFA’s Women’s Magazine, she asked me if I worried about being accused of appropriation because I’m writing about cultures/characters that aren’t my own. We were discussing my latest novel, Curva Peligrosa. Curva is originally from Southern Mexico. Another character, Billie One Eye, is half Blackfoot and half Scottish. They feature prominently in this book. Continue reading “In Defense of Fiction: Is It Appropriate to Appropriate?”

Transiting the Real

sofa-749629_1920Recently, my reading group selected Rachel Cusk’s novel Transit as our next book, and I recalled reading a review by Elaine Blair of Cusk’s novel Outline in the January 2015 New Yorker. Blair claims “Cusk has written admiringly about Karl Ove Knausgaard, and her proposed cure for the trouble with fiction sounds like a gloss of his. ‘Autobiography is increasingly the only form in all the arts,’ she told the Guardian.” Blair goes on to say that some writers are hewing closer to the author’s subjective experiences, of effacing the difference between fiction and their own personal lives.

Continue reading “Transiting the Real”

The Imagination = Fountain of Youth

“Logic will get you from point A to point B, but imagination will take you everywhere” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of imagination not just as a writer and reader but also as a survival tool. And I wonder how and when this faculty first appeared. Of course, when discussing imagination, creativity is not far behind, for the two are handmaidens. The imagination needs our creative abilities in order to be realized, and to be fully creative, one needs imagination.

imagination copy

Kant, apparently, believed that the “faculty which takes pleasure in the contemplation of both beautiful and sublime objects is that which forms images” (The Critique of Judgment). Forming images is one aspect of inventiveness. Images have many components, usually based on something that we can name in the inner or outer world, like tree or bird or dragonfly. These entities then not only name something we can visualize, but they also can be metaphors or symbols that signify something more. In this sense, imagination really is an image-nation, inhabiting its own sphere.

The ability to dream and fantasize and discover has its foundations in our imaginative faculty. Think of how bland and one-dimensional this world would be if we couldn’t envision something more, something that hasn’t been considered before. This is what inspires me to write. Writing offers me an opportunity to exercise my own imagination and create something totally new in the process. I feel my all novels are a celebration of the imagination and where it can take us. For me, it is the fountain of youth. As long as we can imagine, we are young in spirit and able to transcend even this decaying body.

Writers Versus Artist: Is There a Difference?

I’ve been thinking more about my reaction to some writers. One can be a writer…anyone can be a writer in the sense of putting sentences together that form longer narratives…but not everyone is an artist. That’s the distinction I want to make between the work some people are publishing whether the book is self-published or travels the traditional route via a publisher, small or large.

But why is being an artist different and does it matter? Art should cause us to see others, the world, and ourselves differently. When it’s functioning best, it shakes our usual way of thinking/perceiving and connects us to something deeper. Transcends the everyday. If I’m just writing purely autobiographical material that’s barely disguised as fiction and not inventing as well, I’m not opening the door for something new to enter. Instead, I’m reiterating what I already know and passing it off as art—regurgitating. That isn’t to say that memoir/autobiography can’t be artful. It can. So can novels that have autobiographical elements. But, again, it’s how it’s written—the literary techniques and imagination the writer has at his/her disposal that transforms the raw material into artistic expression.

I realize I’m creating a hierarchy here, but I do think the best writers are priests/priestesses in their own way, offering Slide1through the word, through their words, through our universal language, a vision of something else. For me it’s equivalent to viewing our surroundings from a ground floor window versus climbing to the highest level and seeing how much more there is to know about. A writer who isn’t an artist seems to be stuck with that ground floor view. A writer who is an artist has much more scope in his/her work. He/she is able to transform his/her material, and that’s where the artistry comes in. Transformation is at the basis of many religions, and I think it’s also the basis of art: transmuting base metal into gold as the alchemists attempted to do. Taking the letters that make up our words and giving them magical powers to shape our thinking and seeing.

Writing back to life

writer

It’s wonderful to be writing again after my daily commitment was severely interrupted by launching and marketing Fling! I felt hollow during that time, as if something vital were missing from my daily diet. What is it about writing that is so necessary for me and I’m sure for other writers?

When I sit down at my computer, or in front of a sheet of paper, another world opens up to me. It’s not unlike what I experience at night before I fall asleep. The word “fall” seems key here: during those hours, we descend into the unconscious, into another level from our surface life. While the brain may be cranking out a conglomeration of images we’ve collected throughout the day, I don’t believe that’s all we’re doing when we sleep. I think dreams are more mysterious than that explanation implies.

How do you explain the imagination and all it encompasses? How do you constrain it by rationally trying to identify its source, its ability to help us soar on the back of words and create new configurations that end up being stories or poems? You don’t. If you’re a writer, you wed memory, words, and imagination in a marriage that always surprises. And that’s what I missed during those dry days when I didn’t have access to that realm. I’m happy to be back.