It’s Just Your Imagination!

imagination, writing, thinkingFlash!

Scientists are trying to understand the creative brain.

Hmmm, some people in my family have been trying to understand my brain for decades. My dad used to shake his head at me and intone, “It’s just your imagination, Pammy.”

He never knew how angry that statement made me. What did he mean, JUST my imagination? Did that mean it didn’t count?

But now, wonderfully, neuroscientists and psychologists are claiming that “imagination is the cornerstone of creativity.”

Unfortunately, back when I was growing up in the “olden” days, creativity wasn’t so highly touted. But now a neuroscientist and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute of the University of Southern California says, “having original ideas is a process, not a place (within the brain).”

The implication is that it takes a lot of brain to pull off imagination and creativity.dragons, imagination, creativity, writing

So my capability to see tiny, dragon-like lizards on top of maple trees that suddenly glow purple, is not “just” my imagination.

It’s genius!

Researchers are now determining that imagination is only possible with the use of (1) memory (yes, it’s good news that you remember the smell of your 7th grade science teacher’s hair spray) and (2) emotions.

Carousel, Shirley Jones, Gordon McRae, imagination, emotion

Falling in love, in “Carousel.”

Here’s one of my good (emotional) memories: my brother sneaks down to the basement where I’m watching an old movie on TV – “Carousel” with Shirley Jones, in which the love of her life is killed. Little brother taunts me because I’m sobbing at the end, but my dad defends me, saying, “The world would be a better place if all people had the imagination to feel other people’s pain and joy.”

Which brings me to another point researchers are discovering. Some people are inherently more creative and imaginative than others.

I always knew that. Now, perhaps others will view creativity and imagination as immensely special and as a talent to strive for, not ignore.

In fact, a Harvard University researcher noted: “the brain is a creativity machine. You just need to know how to manipulate your software to make it work.”

whale, imagination


Yes, that’s what I do at 5:30 a.m. when I gently wake up, neurons firing, the vivid dream world slowly fading away as I locate Geminia and Frederica, my two soul soothers/imaginators who sit invisibly within my eardrums.

“Did you notice the large whale swimming in the Bay this morning?” Geminia whispers as I begin my early morning walk.

seal, sealife, imagination, San Francisco BayI see a hiccup of a splash in the middle of the bay, and then a seal slaps up, barking an explanation: “That’s Hector. He gets lost all the time. He’s supposed to be in Hawaii by now!”

Ah, Pammy, there’s your imagination again….

Do Writers Have Big Egos?

writer, egoThat’s the question I suddenly ask myself after I’ve been on hold for 13 minutes. Thirteen minutes with a faceless woman who spells my name wrong, three times. Who can’t find my order for 6 minutes (see above re misspelling), and who does not make me feel confident that the order, once placed, will be correct.

And what am I ordering?

website, bookmarks, publishing, authors

Faceless woman.

Bookmarks. Customized bookmarks that feature my book and links to my book as well as my blog.Now, see where I’m leading?

Who wastes their time on faceless people after creating a bookmark for hours (oh yes, it took me a total of over 8 hours in front of the computer cursing, screaming, pulling out my hair and scaring the dog) while the ‘easy to use’ website crashed, burped, blinked, and generally made my life hell as I chose colors, downloaded my book cover, and then added text.

dog, writer, frustration, ego, authors

Scared dog – see him rolling his eyes at me?

Self-involved people, that’s who waste their time on these frustrating tasks. I never ever considered myself one of those people who think only of themselves – those kind of self-important people who are clueless about the world around them.

But. Gulp. Have I just described writers?

We sit in a room by ourselves and make up people, imaginary people with whom we use up (some would say waste) a lot of our time and energy.

We join our friends at a café but our eyes glaze over during the intense conversations about….life…. while in our heads we plot the next chapter in our imaginary characters’ lives.

We create blogs that talk about ourselves, and our writing, and our characters, so that everyone will know about our work when we publish. (Thank you, Karen Elliott for featuring my “A Brave New World” post on your Word Shark blog today!)


We go on Facebook and post ‘Buy my book!” or “Like me and my blog and my newest publication.”

We spend our time marketing our books and stories, creating bookmarks and accepting invitations to women’s groups and book clubs, and library workshops to talk about ourselves, and our writing and our books and…

Oh dear.

writers, ego, publishing, authorsWriters must have big egos!

I sit back in my chair as the faceless lady takes my credit card number, and I realize I’m a self-involved, heartless soul, despite my years of parent-ing and wife-ing and attempting to be a good sister and daughter and meditating peace and good will to all.

But perhaps those of us with a passion, those of us who believe in what we do, whether it be writing fiction or skiing down a mountain or collecting antique cars or hitting a small ball on a long stretch of hilly grass, perhaps we all stroke our egos to allow ourselves to believe (and to encourage others to believe) in what we do.

And what, exactly, do we do?

We make up people – but in doing so, we help ourselves and our readers to understand life just a fraction better. To understand what makes us humans work (or not work) in the scheme of this confusing universe.

So really (my big ego says) we writers are quite important.

Perhaps I should have ordered 200, instead of 100, bookmarks… 🙂