I see myself as a pretty imaginative person. I like to think my mind is able to take off on flights of pure fancy.
And I’m pretty proud of that ability. In fact, if you were to ask me what characteristic of myself I’m most proud of, I reckon the answer would be my imagination.
Having a good imagination is great for so many reasons. Not least of all, it helps me get through the day. When the pressure builds up, or I’m just overpowered by the tedium of day-to-day life, that imagination is the special gift that makes things tolerable. Being able to fantasise about things beyond the realm of the everyday is a brilliant pressure valve.
Of course, imagination is indispensable in my chosen vocation – that of the writer. Is it possible to be a writer if you have no imagination? Well, I suppose anything is possible. But how you would achieve it, I have no idea. Sure there are many important qualities required to be a writer – persistence, discipline, not to mention a basic understanding of the workings of language. But none of them would seem to count for much without the spark of imagination to really set things alight.
Sometimes I worry whether imagination is valued enough in the world around us. I especially fear for the younger generation, in their worlds overwhelmed by technology and social media. Do they have the opportunities to let their imaginations flow? Will they able to develop the rich and deep imagination that I’ve always seen as such a valuable thing?
And it’s not just about the fact that without an imagination, they’re missing so much about life, as well as denying themselves one of the most powerful coping tools when things get difficult. I reckon it’s bigger than that.
There’s no doubt the world is facing many tough problems. Global warming, economic inequality, rising racism and hatred, just to name a few. To solve these problems, we need to be able to find new ways to see the world – to think outside the box, rather than following the same, tired-old patterns of thought. And what’s the tool that best allows us to achieve this? That’s right – imagination.
Which is why I see it as a public service to try to help the younger generation develop their sense of imagination. And the way I try to do this is with my stories. Stories that feature characters that think for themselves, and solve problems with their imaginations. And stories that at a deeper level defy the restrictions of genre, helping readers see the world in different ways.
Doesn’t sound like much, but it feels like the least I can do.
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