23 July 2012

The Bridge to Imagination: Overcoming Writer's Block by Stepping Outside

Every man's memory is his private literature. 
~ Aldous Huxley

A
  writer’s Muse, as for most artists, is his imagination.  There, the impossible becomes the commonplace; the extraordinary and fantastical, real.  Middlearth is somewhere in New Zealand, a day’s ride by horse; Hogwarts, a 9¾ platform away.

In the imagination, reality too has a place: it becomes fathomable, pain is made tolerable, abuse - healable. 

But if imagination is the gateway to art, what is the bridge to reach it?

Five Little Senses and What They Knew
This afternoon, I walked by the loading dock of a new office building.  The air whooshing out of the vents triggered a sense memory.  All of a sudden, I was 7 or 8 years old and on the second floor of a carpet store.  My parents were shopping for new carpet to cover the wood floors [I know – don’t get me started!] in the dining and living rooms. 

Not an exciting memory, I grant you.  But a memory that can be plucked and re-planted in a short story.  Or in a poem about the sense of smell. Or in an essay on the perceptions of childhood.

Sometimes a sound will trigger a memory (the ice cream truck jingle that reminds you of the day you realized you were poor), or taste (a bite of a fresh picked strawberry and you are back in your grandmother’s kitchen making shortcake).

You may be out walking in the rain and the splash of cars in puddles triggers, not a memory, but a scene that you’re working out for your new play.  The steady beat of the rain suggests a way to end the chorus of a song you’re stuck on.  The sight of cows munching in the field becomes the first stanza of a poem.

The Muse is all around us.  We just have to look, listen, touch, taste and smell her presence.  The rest is up to our imagination.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What inspires you?  Share your favorite memory with us in the comments!
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