When first I joined Brigit’s Flame it was not unusual for the weekly contestant list to include twenty-five or more writers, and standing by, ready and little giddy, were twice as many readers. The site that once hosted such boisterous fun has long since been abandoned by a majority of readers and writers, partly, because its once charming antiquated glitchiness became too annoying. Now the Flame is rekindled on WordPress and we want to rebuild an impressive list of readers and writers — A New Generation. Come join us, won’t you?
The discussion this week is reality, opened by the ever vivacious RicoChey yesterday who questioned the influence of madness on creative minds. Is the creative edge enhanced or hindered by (congenital/clinical) mental/emotional “defect”?
Upon considering RicoChey’s Monday discussion, I wondered (as I often do), are there unknown dangers lurking in the minds of those whose creative works achieve a wholly different level of Wow! Or can they, or at least some of them, credit the influences of everyday humdrum real life?
Personally, I have been a lifelong admirer of those creatives who find something within themselves that allows a certain level of detachment from the ‘real world’: those who can build entire new worlds, ideologies, and races of humanoid populations in galaxies far far away, or walk them along invisible planes parallel to this old, tired universe in which we exist. Imagine the dreams these people have! The conversations they have with the page, the full-color mental images they must entertain while going about some utterly mundane task like vacuuming or driving to the post office!
Whatever it is that gifts them with such a level of imagination, I can’t help but be envious. Thinking in terms of world building, inventing unheard of technologies, and introducing philosophical frameworks, modes of government, language — I don’t possess the ingredients for such recipes. Truth is, I’m rather nailed down to the ‘real world’.
Here in the real world there are two inarguably prevalent influences on the stability of an individual’s sanity, and thus, their imagination: Love and Fear.
Some might say, Love and Hate, but I maintain that Hate is borne of Fear. That may be a chicken and egg debate … nevertheless! Love and Fear. Fear that we might one day lose what we Love most. Fear that we may never really know the comfort and strength of Love. Fear that we can’t Love as ‘normal’ people Love. The cold sweat trickling down the spine Fear upon realizing the responsibility to protect the people/property we Love.
Last night I watched a movie in which one of the protagonists is introduced as a rather brilliant young entrepreneur who tired quickly of big city living and piles of cash, so he sold his business for more piles of cash and took his family out into the lonely rustic vistas of Northern California. He was a compassionate man, a good father, a stable human, but a realist who recognized the dangers of society becoming so utterly dependent upon technology. He quietly prepared for the END. He, his young wife and child, became organic farmers and stockpiled supplies, became friends with their neighbors that did the same. He was a nice guy.
The END came. Cities caught fire, the government disintegrated, chaos began to reign. Meanwhile, all of his old college buddies migrated to his solar-powered castle on the hill seeking safety. He welcomed them, assured them they could live well and safe for years on the supplies he had accumulated. Even so, at one point he looks into the eyes of his six year old daughter and unbidden, unspoken, that cold sweat trickling down the spine Fear took hold. He quit sleeping. He became frightened by how easy it was to turn his back on a neighbor being beaten and robbed for meager supplies, and without blinking, lied to other neighbors about not having medical supplies.
Our intelligent realist started making enemies of scared people. And, intelligent and realistic, as prepared as he was, his solar-powered castle had never been equipped with a single security measure. He was utterly preoccupied with the safety of his daughter, but naive enough to think that food and shelter was all that was needed to keep her safe.
This guy’s reality shifted multiple times in a matter of days. The initial shift, and all those twists and turns that came after, were caused by Love and Fear and compounded daily by more Fear. Emotions got out of control. IQ points dropped by the second.
I will tell you that it all turned out all right, mostly thanks to one of his college buddies that was capable of viewing the END from a wholly different perspective. She could see the path to a new beginning. And she also knew how to use a gun.
Tell me how your character(s) cope with Love and Fear. Do the intense effects drive them well past the borders of sanity, well beyond compassion and hope? Or, does the opportunity arise for them to become better? Feel free to share your favorite literary or movie characters and their defining moments.
The final reading list and voting poll for April is small, but still requires your attention! And, after showing some reading & voting love, prepare yourselves for the May Challenge! The writers have already signed up, but keep your eyes peeled for weekly writing sprints and gird your loins for a lengthy reading list at the end of the month.