Imagination – the Divine Vision

‘My imagination is a Monastery and I am its monk.’

JHISS week 011Keats’ words to Shelley (as the Romantics caught hold of the concept of ‘imagination’ and ran with it), caught my attention this week as I read an article on William Blake. I, like most writers I would assume, like to think about my approach to writing fairly frequently – the language I use, the point of view I take, the theme I focus on and so on – but above all else, when it comes down to it, pure imagination is key.

Like anything, if over-worked, writing can become prescriptive, unnatural, formulaic… when all it really needs sometimes is a healthy dose of imagination and a little less rule-keeping. I love writing which surprises me, grips me with beautiful language and takes me somewhere I just wasn’t expecting. I enjoy, as I’ve mentioned before, the stream of consciousness type of novel which is, to me, endlessly fascinating in its tangential complexity or straightforward observation. It’s truly imaginative and not just in the story (or as some might protest – ‘what story, it’s just random thoughts!’), but in the languagePicture 1

Imagination of course, shouldn’t just be confined to the plot, but to the essential ingredients – the words. It strikes me that in prose, focus more often goes to story structure whereas in poetry, there’s more attention given over to the words. Each word, to be exact. In poetry, every word must win its place.

IMG_1770Imagination can sometimes be crushed in favour of what’s trending, but why write what people are reading now? Use your imagination and write something that’ll hook them in the future.

Is your imagination a monastery? Do you make it your focus like Keats did?

Do you immerse yourself in all the fantastical, impossible and utterly absurd elements that your imagination throws at you?

And – do you write them down and explore them further, or shut them away in favour of the formulaic and what is expected of the modern-day writer..?

As Blake said: ‘One power alone makes the Poet – Imagination The Divine Vision’.




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3 responses to “Imagination – the Divine Vision

  1. A lovely post. I think it’s harder to allow the imagination to take hold, such as in Keats’ Negative Capability, when writing narrative. Plot, structure, characterisation are all impediments to that freedom, unless you’re Virginia Woolf of course, in which case you can allow poetry to permeate your prose and somehow still maintain narrative control. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Nicola, and for visiting my blog! I suppose it’s just whatever style fits best. Some people plan meticulously with their plot, structure etc and others begin with an idea and see where it leads. The language can be imaginative either way but I’m definitely in favour of letting it take hold and seeing what happens, rather than being prescriptive from the word go! Plus, I think there’s little value in writing ‘for the market’ when, by the time your book’s published (if that delight happens!), then you can be sure something new will be trending. But it’s all an experiment and that, I like!

      • Definitely, it’s a wise novelist who writes a book they themselves would like to read, rather than trying to fit in with trends 🙂
        Whenever I think of Keats I want to lie in a field of flowers except Autumn is unfurling and the time has passed.
        Looking forward to reading your next post!