Call me a nerd. I've spent the majority of these past few days in Colorado reading and writing. In fact, I've read about one thousand pages over the past three days. Quite the luxury. One thing that I struggle conveying to people is the degree to which I get involved in books. I know it's true for me and several others I've met, but I'm not sure if it's just a literary nerd trait. When I read a book, I am startlingly close to living it. I take the time to learn the characters as intimately as I know my friends and feel the emotional struggles as closely as if they were my own.
I'm sure most people have read about a character that attaches him/herself to the recesses of the mind. The character lingers like the sweet, earthen smell of rain for hours or days after the storm has passed. I'm currently having that particular reaction in a book I am reading. Whether I'm driving to a nearby town to eat or walking our dog, the girl in this story travels with me, all but tangible in my day to day life.
Perhaps that's the sign of a well-written book. Perhaps of a novel idea. I'm going to guess, however, that the truth is behind imagination. What a great aspect of the human mind: Imagination. From all the knowledge people have gathered regarding life on this planet, I'm not sure we've come across another being that had imagination other than ourselves. We can see words, formulate thoughts, envision characters, and on top of it all, imagine every aspect of that character's life, written or unwritten.
That's the beauty of stories. At the heart of it's conception, process, and ultimate interpretation lies imagination. The story can literally and metaphorically be whatever we want it to be. A protagonist is a protagonist, but MY protagonist will forever be different than any other reader's, and there is immense beauty in that realization.
My trip is more than halfway over and I will be returning to grad school, work, and a near infinite number of other obligations upon my return, but I will be at least one haunting character, one thought-provoking plot, and one enlightening story richer.
Here's to imagination.