Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to the Imagi-Nation!

**This is meant for any of my writer friends or others who considers themselves an intellectual or creative type. Even if you don't think you are, chances are you'll find an application here anyway.**

Wow - had an excellent Institute class today (given - I've never had a non-excellent Institute class. I've long since determined that, like Apparating inside Hogwarts or outrunning Edward Cullen or the Detroit Lions having a winning season, this is impossible). I gained some great insights that apply to me and quite possibly a lot of people and I feel compelled to share them.

Currently, I'm in a class on the Pearl of Great Price. It's a short book, but it's chock full of great doctrine, if you dig deep enough (oh boy, do we ever dig!) Right now, we're talking about the Creation and how science and religion add up, but that's not what intrigued me today. It's something our teacher said. At the beginning of class, he held up a brick and asked us all to list as many uses for a brick as we could in 60 seconds. So, we did - at the end of the time, he asked us to tell us how many things we thought of - the class average was around 15. To illustrate the point, when he would do this exercise as a student, the class would come up with 30-50 uses.

Conclusion: we are less creative and imaginative nowadays. We let other people be creative and we just be entertained by their creativity.

To tie all this into the Creation, he asked us a series of questions: What does God imagine? What kinds of things does God daydream about (inasmuch as He would daydream - just go with me here)? What does the Greatest Creative Genius in the universe imagine in His free time? And how does that show our potential as His children?

He said some things that really struck me that I want to share. Of all God's creations, we are the only ones that have the ability to imagine - to create literature and art, to build a space station, to develop the Internet, to reason, to philosophize. BUT - what does that amount to in each of us?

And this is the one that hit home: Are you letting someone else's imagination stifle yours?

I had to think on that one. I've been working on a novel since high school that has gone through so many incarnations, for better or worse (I hope better). Sometimes, when I find a fellow writer friend, I will share some of my ideas because I am so in love with this story and the characters and I really, really, REALLY want to write it and I want to have a sounding board. But sometimes (not all the time, but now and then) the person I share it with says "Why did you call your town X? That sounds a lot like the town from book Y." Or even - I'll read a new book and there'll be something in the plot that resembles something I've included in mine, and that'll frustrate me because I feel like I'm the last one to the table and I can't do that now because someone else did. For instance: I picked up a book that retells the legend of King Arthur from the perspective of the women in the story and one of the characters had a piece of jewelry that resembled something I had one of my characters own. And I'd never read this book before - it was pure coincidence! (not to mention, English majors are conditioned to be deathly afraid of anything remotely resembling plagiarism. It's like the swine flu of the literary world).

Sadly, I concluded that I do let others' imaginations stifle my own. And it's not solely reserved for my writing, either. I've wanted to pursue a Masters degree since I knew it was something I could do, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to study - I had a boatload of options and Masters degrees in any field of English are highly specialized. You have to pick Medieval Literature or Studies in 20th Century American Folklore or Literary Fiction or Poetry ... the list goes on.

While I was on my mission, I decided that I wanted to do it in Library Science. So, when I got home, I started researching programs, picked one that felt right and began applying. I am in the ending phases of the application process and I am very pleased with myself and there are others who are happy for me. But - there are a few that give me funny looks when I tell them I'm getting my Masters degree to become a librarian. It's like "You'll have spent six years in school just to be a librarian?"

Honestly - it hurts. And I started to second-guess my decision, just like I second-guess my story decisions. Decisions that I have pondered long and hard on (yes, I think LONG and HARD on my story - I've worked on it this long, it's going to be good, gosh dang it!) And I hate second-guessing my decisions - makes me feel like all the work I've done is a waste and I'm no good at anything. And even though the criticism might not really be worth my time or even energy, somehow it gets stuck. It's something I have to deal with - that's when I go to the people whose opinion really does matter - usually a member of my family or a close friend and they put me straight and all is well with the world.

But the lesson in Institute really helped. It's nice to know that part of my purpose is to be creative (shoot, creation is one of God's hobbies, why can't it be one of mine? Maybe not on the plane that He operates, but I can work in my own sphere. "Worlds without end" "My words never cease" - sounds like a pretty creative God to me).

I have a really creative mind, you know (at least, I like to think so). I don't mean to sound prideful or full of myself, but I'm a good writer and it's something I enjoy (and I love books and nothing would thrill me more than to be a professional bookworm ^_^). I just have to stop taking what other people say to heart as much as I do (unless it's warranted - but that's on a case-by-case basis).

That's my story - hope it helped any of you creative-imagination-driven types out there. What do you think? Let me know! (even if it's bad - hey, if I'm ever going to be published, I need to get used to negative feedback).

And I'm going to post this now before it gets any longer. But it's something good to muse about (ha ha - "muse" - no pun intended ^_^)

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