The Canvas of Imagination


Mallory Orthberg used to get in trouble with her parents when she was little and was put in timeouts, but “it wasn’t really a punishment because I was thinking in cartoons and I was free in my own mind, DAD.”

When I was a kid, I did not think in cartoons. I had grander schemes. We moved from New Knoxville, Ohio to Mt. Victory, Ohio; what amounted to an hour long car drive to my grandmother’s. I imagined building an underground steam locomotive that would speed to Grandma’s in a matter of minutes. I would also wear a special costume and fight crime. The furthest I achieved in this plan was a red crayon outline in the bedroom closet that marked doors for myself, my brother, my sister, and our dog.

When I discovered writing, I imagined entire worlds. And I think I’ve mentioned before writing fiction, for me, is like living in two separate worlds simultaneously.

My imaginary worlds are exhaustive, colored in details and magic that often go unnoticed in the real world, but without the real world, there is no life.

Art is what makes imagination real.

Proof in point, Simon Lake invented the submarine after reading Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Robert H. Goddard who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket was inspired by H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

Of course, what I write is not so much science-fiction as going hand in hand with the literati indie author movement that is slowly gaining steam. I write because I want to know the soul of humanity. And of course, fantasy, science-fiction, speculative fiction, romance, genre, whatever label you want to use all has the potential to know the human soul. But I’ve tried writing genre, and writing genre makes me unhappy (though reading genre doubles my brain’s dopamine levels!)  

So whether I slip past the gatekeepers of traditional publishers or not, I will continue to tell stories in the style that makes me happy, continue to work my imagination, hopefully inspire others because I also agree with Megan Amram: “Maybe we could start telling people that the healthiest way to do something is to figure out how to make yourself the happiest version of yourself, for yourself.”

And again, thanks to Mary Laura Philpott and her “What I’ve Learned From 28 Brilliant Creators” post to which this series on creativity would not be possible. And don’t miss Philpott’s interview with Ed Tarkington on SalonOnly Love Can Break Your Heart has been added to my ever growing reading list.

Tomorrow, all about my feelings towards the comma splice!
And Friday, Elizabeth Gilbert on doing what you love and wrong exits off the highway.


Photo Credit

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