Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Just Imagine

by Ruth Dell

What's behind the green door? This question haunted me for many years after I watched a brilliant production in which students acted out scenes from several children's books. Their purpose was to bring the books to life and pique school children's curiosity, thus encouraging them to read stories for enjoyment. Their magic certainly worked on me, and I searched for a copy of "Behind the Green Door". This was before Google days, and I couldn't find the book anywhere. So I had to use my imagination to try and answer the question. Was it a puppy? A pirate? A land from the Magic Faraway Tree? A monster? A cave. . . 

And that's the wonder of the gift of imagination that God has given us. As readers we use our  imaginations to visualize the stories that we read, in so doing we bring our life experiences into play. For example, if an author mentions a field of yellow flowers, I may visualize the dazzling yellow of a crop of canola, another reader might see a field of sunflowers, while yet another sees a cheerful carpet of daffodils swaying in the breeze- the possibilities are endless. Each reader will experience the book in his/her unique way, and often in ways entirely different to the author's intention and ideas. Our life experiences will affect the way we see the settings, the characters and even the plot.

And writers would not be able to write their novels if it were not for their imagination. We have to imagine our characters' emotions, goals, motives, hurts, lies, appearance, speech. . . We have to use our imaginations to ask and answer "What if?" questions to find out what happens in our books. What if my heroine runs away from home? What if she is missing for two years and then returns with no idea of who she is? What if her experiences have made her into a liar and thief? We have to use our imaginations to adapt and flesh out real life settings, or create a totally new setting.

There are some wonderful quotes which give us some idea of what we can accomplish if we use our imaginations. Here are a few:
  • Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein
  • Imagination is the true magic carpet. Norman Vincent Peale
  • You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Mark Twain
  • Imagination is the highest kite that can fly. Lauren Bacall
  • There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. G K Chesterton
What Can You See in these Clouds?
  • but, I nearly forgot. you must close your eyes. otherwise. . .  you won't see anything. Alice
  • I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo
Sculptor Nick Speakman Set a Squirrel and an Owl Free

My favorite anecdote illustrating the power of imagination comes from Emma, a little girl in my pre-school class several years ago. The class said a prayer of thanks for their lunch and were about to start eating when Emma piped up,
"Teacher Ruth, Kyle had his eyes open when we said grace."
"Emma, if you saw his eyes open, then your eyes were also open."
" Oh no, Teacher Ruth. I used my imagination."

Before ending this post, I googled "Behind the Green Door". I discovered that it was written in 1940 by Mildred Wirt, who wrote several of the Nancy Drew books as a ghost writer under the name of Carolyn Keene. Guess what I'm downloading this afternoon! At long last I'll find out what's behind the green door.


  1. Behind the Green Door is a book? I thought it was a 1980's pop song!

    Off to Goodreads to look this up ...

    And thank you for the quotes and images about inspiration. Great timing!

    1. Thank you for the comment. I'll follow you to Goodreads and see if anyone else has found this elusive book.

  2. Excellent post, Ruth. Well done. Hmmm, like Iola I've never heard of a book called the Green Door. Sounds good. Everyone has an answer to cancer

    1. Thank you, Shirley. I've downloaded The Green Door, now to read it.

  3. Love the reminder of the importance of imagination. I was always a daydreamer growing up. How fun that I can now put those stories on the page. But I love as well the reminder how as readers we use our imaginations when we read. Reminds me as well how amazing God is with His creation! Thanks for sharing, Ruth.

  4. Thank you for your comment,Lisa. Our imaginations make life colorful and interesting.