21 October 2009

Imagination Diagnosis

How's your daydream life? That's not one we hear often. Usually people want to know how are you? Are you well? How's your family, the job, the dog, the car? No one asks how your imagination is doing. And why is that, I wonder? Could it be that in our culture, imagination has gone the way of the Dodo, a childish waste of precious time in which we could be earning more money, doing more, hustling and bustling more? Hmmm, something, indeed, to ponder.

I have always had a very vivid and very lucid imagination. I have been known to wander into realms uncharted during meetings, church services, even movies! I can imagine myself away from anywhere at anytime. Growing up, my parents encouraged my imagination. It was like food to me, water. I was awash in the world inside my head. My best friend and I created a whole world in which we were princesses and we rode unicorns and lived in castles by the sea. I've been most everything in my daydreams: an astronaut, a paleontologist, a college history professor, an Egyptologist. Needless to say, my imaginary wanderings tend towards the exotic.

For years I just knew I was going to go away to college and become a famous explorer. The female Indiana Jones, if you will. But, life happened, and to college I went but I have yet to achieve that coveted degree (I did finally settle on a major, by the way. Cultural Anthropology. It's a great excuse to travel, eat weird food and spend days studying mythology!). For years I beat myself up, telling myself I was a loser, a hopeless romantic who could never commit long enough to earn a four year degree, much less a graduate degree. Then I got to thinking: I'm a writer. I have myriad characters rummaging through my brain and they so enjoy trying on my careers of daydreams past. It occurred to me, I have a more than enough fodder for my imaginary friends to take and make their own. With a bit more research (and a whole lot of work) I could have a character in every occupation I've ever had even the most remote interest in.

Actress Jodi Foster once said in an interview that she loved acting because she was able to be everything she'd ever wanted to be growing up. Unless Tim Burton suddenly discovers me standing in line at Starbucks, I doubt I'll be doing any award speeches for the Academy anytime soon. But I have the same opportunity with writing. Career paths, research projects, fascinating stories in the paper, imaginary worlds and mythological creatures all have a role to play. Be it a leading or a supporting part, that which I've dreamed about (and studied) can come in handy in my stories.

What are you most common daydreams? Have you ever thought of using them for your stories, giving your characters the role of biological chemist that you played in your high school fantasies? Think about it. We all carry an enormous amount of knowledge, both imaginary and life-learned. Take some time and mine your vast resources. You'll be amazed at what you come up with. And who knows, you may have a biological chemist inside you just waiting to be born!



Stephanie Faris said...

The interesting thing is, my biggest dream in life is to become a successful author, but I don't daydream about it. I don't dare. It's almost as if I feel by daydreaming, I'll jinx it somehow.

Tamika: said...

I have always daydreamed, it's the reason I've lived in one place my whole life and still hardly know how to get around. For some reason the lull of the car moving drove me to wander in my own thoughtlife.

I was the classic daydreamer.

An angle from this new WIP has a link to a daydream that I have been carrying for years.

Happy writing Jen!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't daydream but I do try to dream about my characters when I go to sleep. :)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

My favourite daydream was (yes, I admit it) receiving an Academy Award for acting. Every year, as I watch the ceremony the dream re-appears. Ah, well. Perhaps one day, I'll get one for a brilliant screenplay.


Helen Ginger said...

I don't seem to daydream as much as I used to. I am, however, plotting something of a daydream. It'll be awhile before I get to put it on paper, though.

Straight From Hel

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I know you'll stand up there giving a speech one day, though! And I shall be hootin' and hollerin' from the peanut gallery. :0) You are so talented and definitely deserve all acclaim that will come your way!

Ratty said...

My imagination takes me to just about anything I see at the time. I sometimes imagine being every TV or book character I see or read at the time. I imagine the good and the bad of all of it. I like thinking about things like that just to find out what it would be lie to be them.

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh Jen, your posts are so inspiring! I think I was very similar with my imagination when I was a child and I hope to foster that in my children now. But somedays it feels like a battle to keep them creative! There are so many distractions with computer games, TV, movies, etc. I hope that I can win the battle to inspire them to dream big too!

...mmm... said...

A chemist of any sort is definitely not in there anywhere for me!

I loved this post. This is indeed something you rarely read about.

How funny that you will even daydream whilst at the movies! i thought the movie was for escapism!?

Yes, writing would be the perfect avenue for you. Do you have a book in process? Me? No, I don't think I could handle a whole book but I do love to write--thus my blog.

And to your last question: do I daydream/imagine? Oh yes, perhaps too much. Life can be so dissapointing in contrast sometimes!

Lisa said...

Interesting that I have never thought to put what I wish to become into a character. The idea of doing that makes me feel strange...uncomfortable.

But I do daydream all the time of becoming a famous author...all that "The Secret" stuff :-)