SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

Imagination and Worry…When They Clash!

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Blog, Food for Thought | 3 comments

I own the DVD, Inkheart—the family-friendly film of Cornelia Funke’s bestseller. The story focuses around a man’s ability to read a story and cause the characters to leap off the page, literally. The New York Times Book Review described Inkheart as “sprinkled with magical fairy dust,” while Kirkus Reviews declared it “a true feast for anyone who has ever been lost in a book.” Part of a trilogy—with Inkspell and Inkdeath the following two—Inkheart is exceptional and emphasises the truth that one of a writer’s constant companion is imagination.

Interesting and engaging as it may be, the movie goes beyond entertaining. It challenges me as a writer to delve deeper into the countless possibilities of developing a story that holds my audience and brings them to a point when the story ends and they wish it would continue.

To help me develop and grow on my journey as an author, I formed a second chapter of WWC, Women Writing for Christ. Four of us meet at least monthly, if not every three weeks. Currently we are working through a book entitled, Creating Character Emotion. Each time we meet, we choose one emotion from a long list. We read the chapter, endeavour to respond to the three writing exercises and bring our efforts to our next meeting for critiquing. Sometimes there’s a lesson learned along the way, such as learning when to use worse and worst, or developing the discipline of correct POV (point of view). We treat our homework seriously, wanting to learn and develop our skills as writers.

While in Florida this past March, the group met without me but emailed me my assignment…no getting away from it, even on holidays! The emotion was worry. The following is the result. As much as imagination is my constant companion when writing fiction, this hit closer to reality than make-believe!

My watch read eight-forty-three as I paced in front of our unit on a now darkened road in our trailer park. Surrounding neighbours had called it a night—with the exception of a few who appeared to think, as I did, that retiring at such an early hour was ludicrous. One does such things—pace, I mean—believing that the very act will rectify any problem one faces. And so I paced and just knew that Doug would show up at any minute. Why wouldn’t he? He only had to go for bread and milk.

Unfortunately, the power-of-positive-thinking approach didn’t work, and for a brief second I debated knocking on our neighbours’ door for help. I visualized myself standing under their front porch light sobbing incoherently, “Please help me. Doug’s missing! He’s been gone for almost two hours. He only had to buy bread and milk.”

In that split second of indecision, their living room and kitchen lights went out! The only people I knew in a park of over nine hundred and fifty units had gone to bed and, unknowingly, left me standing alone on a dark street imagining only the worst. A sense of dread began to fester in my stomach.

Where in the world was Doug? I forced my fear aside and allowed annoyance to replace it—that was easier to deal with—and childish defiance accompanied it. “Maybe I’ll have some peanut butter on toast when he gets back.” (Just the smell of peanut butter that late at night bothers him.) “I’ll show him,” I whispered as I glanced one last time down the darkened road before heading inside.

My thoughts didn’t linger too long on the peanut butter or my annoyance; rather, I began to pace again, checking the time every two minutes. My focus had become irrational but worry had set in —and its sidekick, fear—and reasoning had fled.

“This is ridiculous,” I said aloud to myself, desperate for my failed logic to return. “We only needed bread and milk.” But where in the world was Doug? Publix was just across the road. He could have walked in less than ten minutes, for goodness’ sake! And he only needed to buy bread and milk.

Then questions began to hover. Did he have his licence with him? Of course he did. What an absurd idea. What about his insurance card? Yes, I put it in his wallet myself. Did he leave the paper in the car window that gives us access to the park? The police will figure out where we are staying and…the police! My stomach lurched and threatened to heave.

Car lights bounced off our add-a-room wall as a car rounded the curve in the now-very-dark road. I gritted my teeth and waited, knowing without a doubt the car would be labelled, Sheriff.

Imagination works well in the fiction world. Worry, on the other hand, can have a damaging effect on a person, physically, emotionally and spiritually. As much as I hate to admit it, if I let it, worry can be a constant companion in my real world. It strips me of peace as much as imagination allows me free reign in my fiction world. The author of Psalm 26 wrote in verses 3 and 4, “You, Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you. So, trust the Lord always, because he is our Rock forever.”

Did Doug get home…without the Sheriff? Of course he did. Did I feel embarrassed and ashamed for putting my body through such anxiety? Yes! Will I ever do that again? Hmmm…I wish I could say a resounding NO! However, my imagination often transfers from my fiction world to my real world, so I can’t promise. But I’m working on it!


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  1. Susan Duke

    Nice to read your “words”. You had me on the edge of my seat with your possible dilemma. You truly have the knack. Love to you and Doug. (Where was Doug all that time)

    • Ruth Waring

      Doug was buying groceries!!! Not just bread and milk. He decided that he wanted a pizza (mozzarella cheese only) but it wasn’t good enough to buy a frozen one—he went to a pizza place and waited while they cooked it! How could I stay mad when he brought in such a delicious ‘forgive me’ offering:~) I forgot about having the toast and peanut butter.

  2. Heather

    Hi Ruth: A thought-provoking essay. We worry and our imagination (negative) will sometimes consume us. Two other thoughts came to mind as I read your piece, instinct (intuitive) and that still small voice (as we quiet our hearts to listen for Him and meditate on His Word) as I try to put worry and negative imagination aside. I am not there yet, but working on it too.

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