Monday, October 15, 2012

I See Dead People

I see dead people. I see people who never existed.

A sixth sense, perhaps?

Writers perceive unseen worlds and then put pen to paper to preserve and share those worlds. Do we have ESP, an acute imagination, or both?

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination... is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

As writers we encircle the world when our imagination soars swiftly into the heights or plummets, wingless and desperate, into the darkest depths. We hold an entire world in our hands. Story-telling unleashes our readers’ imaginations.

Then there’s equilibrioception, our sense of balance, that could also be considered a sixth sense. Our sense of balance is physiological, helps keep us upright. The same holds true in our writing. We want to create a sense of balance. Even if the particular world we’re creating is chaotic, it has its own, innate balance and has to be kept straight. We want readers to see and hear that world, feel a character’s ecstasy. Or their pain.

Where am I going with this? I wanted to pause for a moment simply to remind myself to cherish and respect imagination. We make sense of the world, the anguish of others, their determination, their honor, by imagining a walk in their shoes. Bravery might be a prerequisite to try on those slippers or boots, and courage is necessary to write about the experience.

When I first started writing "seriously" I reined in my story-telling over concern about “what people would think,” whether my aunt or a friend might glimpse some dark recess that I keep hidden, or an effervescent, child-like trait, inappropriate to my own self-image. I imagined the worst of them, and myself, rather than freeing my words and worlds. That was dishonest and fear is my excuse. In my mind my stories were glorious, passionate tales. On paper they were boring.

Verisimilitude is the semblance of reality. We want readers to suspend disbelief. To create a semblance of reality my words need to be bold and fearless. It’s okay to be dark or dorky or dumb, whichever is appropriate, and to do that I have to set aside my worries over what someone might think about me. It’s all about the story, and if a character needs to be tortured I have to do my damndest to make them suffer. I need to be honest.

I see dead people and I’m proud of it. Will I be afraid again? Most likely. But if I let my sixth sense run rampant, and if I’m also open and brave, readers might just see my dead people, too. I look forward to seeing yours.

by Janet Fogg
Janet is the author of Soliloquy, an award-winning historical romance, and co-author of the military history bestseller, Fogg in the Cockpit.

A re-post from April 2011 for our Halloween edition.


Patricia Stoltey said...

The dead people I see are usually the ones I've knocked off in a manuscript...most recently a very bad guy who wouldn't behave himself within the context of my story. :D

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, bringing a post BACK FROM THE DEAD...I LIKE that, Janet! Instead of "Brains...!" this piece cries "Wri-ting...!" Great post!

I see dead dogs and WALK OVER dead people....