Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The house of imagination

In praise of writing groups...

As a writer there is nothing like the immense buzz you get when a new idea forms. Inspiration works in many ways – but it can be less of a solitary experience than many people may think.


The hint of an idea for a new story or poem can just wink at you from somewhere unexpected, or the concept for a whole novel can hit you right in the face. Sketches of outlines and great detailed plans emerge from the least likely places. It can happen anywhere, anytime.

Sometimes solitary walks on deserted beaches work for me, but I have found that writing workshops in groups with others can also be productive places for ideas.

You never know where these things will take you.  A visualisation exercise in one I attended recently introduced me to the House of My Imagination.  I was very surprised by what I found there.

Standing before the closed front door I was scared, would there be anything inside? Might the place actually be empty?  

At the same time I was slightly annoyed that I was being told by the workshop leader that my imagination is contained in a building, albeit an imaginary one -- because I felt walls would constrain ideas and inspiration.

Wrong on both counts. Fear keeps the door closed.

Cold walls of granite face me, no sound escapes, no light. Turn the handle, open the door….

I found myself in a large hallway – I walked straight into a huge party with loads of people, music, laughter, dancing. And I saw that I could walk through all this into quieter spaces, full of light, if I chose. I could make it all whatever I wanted, or simply watch what happened. And plenty happens there.

This is a place to dance and to play, to laugh and to rest and wait, all in the same moment. It is whatever you want it to be. It is the home of the fire of your ideas – and we all have one of those. Finding the door and daring to open it is the important part.

We were told in this visualisation exercise to bring just one object out of the house with us. I couldn’t do that either without resisting the leading voice – I wanted two items! But because this was the house of my imagination I could do what I liked, of course, and I brought two objects back.

One was a stone jar, the kind my Dad once used for preserving vegetables and fruit. It is an empty vessel, that can hold all the ideas I choose, a source of endless inspiration.  The other item was a beautiful crystal glass, empty but flashing in the sunshine, sending light rays in all directions – ready to spark off new ideas.

So, maybe fear is the only constraint.  You simply have to imagine your imagination  -- and it is there.
You alone can give that imagination permission to do exactly as it wishes….