Lisa Lickel and I became friends after meeting at the Write to Publish Conference in Chicago a couple years ago. (see picture below.) We are now working on a book proposal together, and I am amazed at how much she gets done! Lisa has shared her perspective on feeding your imagination by being involved in things you are passionate about. And all of us need imagination!
An author doesn't sit around pounding at the keys all day. Real authors go out and gather experiences to fuel their passion. I am a local historian—that is to say, I have studied and continue to learn about the people who live in my rural community, where their ancestors came from, the struggles they went through to get established. One particular place, the Saxonia House, feeds my imagination like no other. I immerse myself in it.
There has to be some truth about the saying, that something gets into your blood. I can’t explain my passion any other way. I unload my third five-gallon container of frozen raccoon scat in the nearby woods last winter, in the snow. It doesn’t escape my notice that it's Valentine’s Day. I hoped that cleaning it out of the attic of the Saxonia House in the winter would make it easier. Just because this once lively home is abandoned except for the mice and bats and spiders and flies, and, oh, my, raccoons (and two spotted salamanders in the basement) and a very persistent groundhog, doesn’t mean it needs cleaning any less than my own.
I am obsessed.
In summer another crazy person wants to take pictures for a Powerpoint production. I want the house to look as nice as it can, in its aging floozy condition. While I was sweeping the year’s worth of guano from my favorite room of the house, I thought about my obsession, and why it is so. I find a bottle. It’s not antique, but it still immediately brings to mind that this might have been a tavern and meeting room, where so much that is Fillmore came to be. Maybe some Prussian comes into town, stopped at the inn for a lukewarm one and directions to his new holdings in the western part of the township. “Ach, back in the Fatherland, we Prussians – we’d be considering how to take control of your measly confederation. Saxony, tariffs – bah! But here in the new country – we be friends.” I hear German songs echoing from the rafters.
Bats chitter behind the attic door and briefly I consider running so I can see which hole they fly out of, so we can patch it up. But that’s silly; there are so many holes.
I couldn’t find a filter mask this morning before I came to finish cleaning. I’m probably going to get a disease from breathing in this bat gunk and old plaster dust, I think. I consider how the particles get into my lungs, and then into my bloodstream. Maybe I don’t sneeze them all away, and some of this place literally stays in my blood.
I go home, and write stories of friendship and lost loves and found dreams.
What's your passion? Is it something that gets into your blood, so that you can pour it onto the page? Go out and live! Feed your imagination from real experiences.