Skyfall & the allure of imagination

I went to see “Skyfall,” the new James Bond film, twice in two days. That is very unusual because I’m not a huge movie buff. My husband wanted to see it, so we went on Thursday night. I was riveted. I do love Daniel Craig as James Bond; there’s something wonderfully dashing and debonair about him that’s absolutely seductive. (My husband knows about this crush of mine and is okay with it.) But, as I sat there, something stronger took over. I could feel emotion welling up inside me as I cast off all concerns about daily life and parenting, and simply lost myself in a story that was as farfetched and exaggerated as it was dramatic and entertaining. I walked around in a daze all day Friday, then insisted we return on Saturday night for another viewing. Second time round, I enjoyed it differently — picking up more references and foreshadowing and enjoying the details because I wasn’t on the edge of my seat with suspense.

What was it that drew me in so intensely? I think it was a combination of factors. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fiction and how much I’d like to start writing fiction but don’t know how or where to start. I want to reclaim my lost imagination, the vivid imagination that once dictated my childhood play from dawn until dusk, the imagination that drove me to write reams of fictional stories that disappeared on my dad’s old, broken Mac. I’ve also been reading a lot of fiction that’s been filling my head with wonderful stories that I can’t stop thinking about. They enter my mind during daytime housework and nighttime dreams.

So when I let myself go in “Skyfall,” I got thinking: “This emotion, this intense pleasure that I’m experiencing, is all because of pure imagination.” One man came up with a character who affected readers so deeply that a movie was made. It took another person’s imagination to come up with a script, then more imagination to create a film. Then we observers use our own imaginations to suspend reality for two hours and let ourselves be drawn into a fictional world.

I want to have left a mark on the world when I die. Sometimes I feel selfish and silly admitting that I crave a sort of immortality through literature, yet there’s something so beautiful about living on in the world through the channelling of imagination into a tangible work of art. It’s like leaving a piece of your soul behind — in a good way. Ian Fleming will live on eternally; Daniel Craig has preserved himself for years to come; both will continue to affect readers and viewers indefinitely. The desire to preserve a piece of my soul through writing, even if only my kids read it and care about it, fills me with longing.

Imagination is powerful; it can also be dangerous, I suppose, but usually it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. I want to part of a world that uses imagination to bring people tremendous pleasure in life. I want to create worlds from my fingertips. I want to transport myself and others to a magical place that exists nowhere else on earth. As Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” I want to go everywhere. I want to write a novel.


3 thoughts on “Skyfall & the allure of imagination

  1. A big part of what made Skyfall work so well is the direction of Sam Mendes, who is best known for American Beauty. The guy is a wizard with shot composition that draws the eye. The Bond franchise has typically employed journeyman filmmakers, but this time the producers decided to get an artist. And what do you know, it was good! Amazing how that works.

    Speaking of art… good luck with your writing.

  2. Here’s a word of encouragement for you…writing fiction is truly one of the most absorbing things I have done. I wrote my first fiction—a novel—last year (I’m illustrating it and looking for a publisher now) and I was blown away by how much I loved it. It was also one of the most challenging things I’ve done artistically. I spent most of an entire year living in another world, in the company of characters I created. Like you, I had no idea where to start, but I had an idea, and so I sat down and started with Chapter 1. Then, I fleshed out the plot in my head (over hours of walking and thinking), threw most of what I had done away, and ended up making a huge plot outline on a gigantic piece of paper. It all flowed from there. When I thought I was done, I edited it as much as I could, then sent it to two or three literary-minded friends for reviews. I got some serious, frank and very helpful criticism from them (not easy to hear, but necessary). I did about 4 significant re-writes after that, then sent it out for more reviews from friends.

    The hard part: It takes an enormous amount of time, is very difficult to do well, and the prospects of getting published in todays’ market are not good. But, that is the reality of art!

    My advice: just start. And stay flexible, make lots of changes and let the story flow out in its own way. Judging from your excellent writing on your blog, I think you’d write a great novel!

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