N.C. Reed doesn’t actually exist. If he did, he would be a grumpy old man living somewhere in Tennessee with a lovely and loving wife, a mutant Doberman, and two worthless cats. He would also enjoy writing, reading, history, and being outdoors when weather and his creaking bones allow it. Oh, and he would have finally taken an art class, too.
Where would we be without it? Would we have ever taken to the sky in flight if the Wright brothers hadn’t ‘imagined’ a machine that could carry a man into the air?
Would we have ever sent a man to the moon, is no one had imagined it was possible?
Not likely. Every great thing, every great event, begins because someone, somewhere, tilted his or her head back, closed their eyes, and imagined ‘what would it be like?’ or ‘what if?’
Nowhere is that more true than in writing fiction. Nowhere. There’s likely not a single work of fiction on the shelves anywhere, be it a book store, library, or private collection, certainly not in sci-fi or fantasy, that didn’t start with someone saying to themselves, ‘man, I wonder what that would be like?’
And then they set about to write down what they had imagined. In some cases to the thrill and enjoyment of us all. Imagination creates wonderful new worlds, creatures, cultures, and technology for the reader to enjoy. It also creates fear, excitement, wonder, and. . .dare I say it? Stimulates imagination in others.
Ah, ‘what if’. Two words, but so much potential. But imagination is only the beginning. The next step is often the work of years. Often the cause of tears. That vision created by ‘imagination’ has to be put into words. The vision has to be created not in pictures, but in words. Words that can describe to the reader a race of beings that they will never actually see. A race that doesn’t even exist, other than in the ‘imagination’ of the writer. The dreamer.
Words that let the reader ‘see’ a strange world, far away from Earth, and experience what it might be like to set foot on that world. Words that create a scene of horror, and truly make the reader feel as if they are right in the middle of that horrible event, whether it be a storm that destroys everything in it’s path, or a horde of flesh-eating zombies intent on consuming every living being in their path.
The writer literally creates a new world, new race, new threat, new technology. And then they make us believe it’s possible. The writer thrills us, horrifies us, titillates us. They create the very things their imagination has seen in the mind’s eye.
They allow us, the reader, to see inside their creations with their words. They paint pictures with words.
That’s what made me become a writer. When I was a teen, I was always captivated by art, especially military art. Scenes from the American Civil War showing the emotions of war on the faces of common soldiers would capture me, and draw me in. They would make me think of scenes in my own mind that I could create.
If, that is, I could paint. Or draw. Which I cannot. It’s all I can do to make a circle using a compass. All of these wonderful ideas for touching scenes running through my mind, and I can’t even operate a spray can without leaving a run in the coat of paint.
So, I had to paint my pictures, using words. If I wanted to share what I could imagine, I had to learn to do it with words. Because I wanted so badly to make sure that the reader saw what I was seeing, I taught myself to be patient, and write very meticulously. Learning to describe in detail the settings, surroundings, and characters as I saw them in my mind’s eye.
Never underestimate the power of imagination. And never forget to thank those who make it come to life for you. Yes, it’s their ‘job’, and they get ‘paid’, but. . . .
It’s also a gift. To everyone who reads. And imagines.