“Every possibility begins with the courage to imagine.”
~Mary Anne Radmacher
I think I’ve found another quote to add to my collection of favorites. Actually, scratch that. I am completely, absolutely, fully, unequivocally certain that I’ve found another quote to add to my collection of favorites. How’s that for an overuse of adverbs? Seriously, though, there’s just something about this one. It has that je ne sais quois, that indescribable quality that threads itself through every word and inspires a whole blanket of emotions. And what makes it even better, at least for me? It’s splashed across the cover of my new writing journal – my new writing journal that, as of yesterday, is home to my outlining, planning, and plotting for the sequel to Reflections of Me.
Squee! Whoohoo! Yay! Finally! Many exclamation points! And did I mention SQUEE?
In case the above didn’t make it clear, I am beyond excited to have officially begun work on my next book. Ideas for it have been floating around in my mind for months now, and to sit down and put those thoughts to words, those images to paper, it’s an adrenaline zap of the most invigorating kind. Part of me would love nothing more than to just dive right into the writing, but I’ve learned by this point that I work best when I have a rough outline and loose idea of where the story’s headed. Those bookends are important. That foundation will serve as a steady support upon which the spontaneous twists and turns will curve and flow. I believe a hundred percent in letting the characters lead the way, but giving them a road to navigate doesn’t take away from that. It only adds momentum.
I’m doing things a bit differently this time. Each character gets his or her own space at the beginning of my journal – space to grow, space to develop, space to remind me of all they’ve learned and all the new journeys they have to take. I’ve never done formal character sketches before, and this isn’t exactly that, either, but I like giving each person a designated section. When I flip the page to someone new, it allows me to immerse myself in that character’s mindset, mood, and personality. It allows me to temporarily backburner the others and focus only on that one. To that end, the journal kind of looks like a rainbow exploded inside it. Two days into the process, and those once-blank pages have now been sprinkled with blues, greens, purples, oranges, reds, and pinks. The characters have colors that represent their personalities, I have a way to slip into their perspective and see the world through their eyes, and my thoughts have a way to slow down, speed up, and work out all the possibilities that bounce around like sunbeams reflecting off diamonds.
Because every possibility deserves its chance. Every possibility deserves the opportunity to blossom, to grow from a seedling of an idea to a dream that can be lived – and lived out loud. Those possibilities are different – for every book, for every character, for every person. We all have our own passions. We all wish on different stars. We all hope for different things. But at the heart of each and every passion, each and every wish, each and every hope? Courage. It takes strength to go for our dreams. It takes strength to go out there and fight for them, to move out of our comfort zones and step from the safe into the unknown. It takes courage to imagine – because once we get swept up by those possibilities, we want them more than ever. And that? It’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a beautiful thing. After all, if we don’t take that first step forward, we’ll never go anywhere. We can’t move into the prospect of the future – of all it holds in its embrace – if we don’t let our hearts and minds wander to what could be.
I love to imagine. As a writer, it’s pretty much what I do all the time. I imagine my characters, their lives, their journeys, their stories. And then I tell them. As a person, well, sometimes I try to make those visions of the future a little less emboldened, a little more centered and a little more grounded, but honestly? Sometimes it’s good to dream big. Sometimes we have to splash the canvas of our lives with vibrant colors, vivid strokes, and telltale pictures. That’s the beauty of imagination. You never know where it’ll take you … and if we’re lucky enough, if we work hard enough and believe enough, sometimes those daydreams turn to reality. Sometimes that courage pays off. Without a doubt, leaping into this journey to publication has required more of me – more determination, more resilience, more emotion, more strength, more everything – than anything I’ve ever done before. Right now, the possibility is still dangling before me. And, even though I have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring or what the future has in store, I will continue finding the courage to keep imagining. I owe it to myself. I owe it to all those possibilities that inspire me every day. I can’t wait to see where they lead, and as I start anew with Dear Ellie, I can’t wait to see how they grow. That’s the beauty of writing (and reading) for me – each book is a chance to delve into something fresh and new, with limitless potential.
What about you? Where does your imagination take you? What possibilities does it bring to life?