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Cynthia Staples : Feeding Imagination

Feeding Imagination

Getting Creatively Inspired

By Cynthia Staples

As a writer, when I am starved for words and ideas, I open a picture book or go online and click into an artist's website. I see a field of lavender in Provence, purple stalks bent under a hot summer sun. Shadowed valleys carved in the face of a black woman picking cotton in the pre-Civil War South. Modern color. Antique black and white. Each picture holds a thousand stories. I only need one.

When my Imagination is captured by an image, she can feel the softness of the cotton and smell the sweetness of the lavender. She is warmed by the sun beating down on her neck and shoulders. If she closes her eyes and listens hard, she can hear amorous words spoken in French by hidden lovers or slave songs sung in broken English. She sees, feels and hears, absorbing all she can, until the image releases her. Then, she skips in to the next world.

Plump red raspberries overflowing a blue ceramic bowl. Silky dark chocolate crumbled on a silver plate. Warm mangoes pulled fresh from a towering tree. On and on she goes, tasting life in places real and imagined. Like Odysseus, she exults in her travels, and like him, she has an ultimate destination. Home.

At some point — sometimes random, sometimes scheduled — Imagination turns to me. Depending on how thoroughly she partook of those other worlds, her brown eyes can be dark with sadness or alight with joy. She will tilt her head back and ask, "Are we ready?"

She means am I ready to write.

More often than not, I am ready. My fingers itch and ache to move over a keyboard or put pen to paper. I put away the book or close the website. I pull out pen and paper or open my word file on the computer. I take a deep breath and release it real slow.

I finally turn to her and say, "Yes, my dear. I am ready."

She has waited patiently all this time.

"Of course you are," she replies and returns to me revived. •

© 2005 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.

Photo by Cynthia StaplesCynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »

Updated 1/6/14