I have a very peculiar imagination. At least, from my point of view it seems peculiar; I have no experience with how other people imagine things, so maybe when people are done reading they can give some feedback on the issue. It's fascinated me for years, now, how people come up with ideas. I'm under the impression that it's different for everyone.
For me, when I imagine things, I get things that are sort of like film clips playing right in front of my vision. I can still see things, by all means, but my attention is on the things that aren't there, be it a flash of light where there is none, or a purpose for something aside from the truth of the situation (like a flash of light being a signal rather than a faulty bulb).* When I was at the Script concert last Thursday, I got an idea for a book in my head. I'd already had some of the idea before, but that night, with music blaring and people all around me and lights going all over the place, brought me back into the feel of that story, and combined it with an idea I had thought about doing. Since that night, a series of at least three books has been coming into my head, going wilder and wilder and getting more and more complicated, and each book is filled with these really beautiful images that I just hope that by the time I get around to writing them that I can describe those sights with enough justice.
The scenes unfold at different paces. Sometimes there are sounds to them, most of the time not quite. Sometimes there are voices and no images. That sounds like schizophrenia, I know, but I am fully aware that these are just stories, that I'm not being told to do something. I make the mistake of speaking out the words of the people - and that's when I can see them in my head, though sometimes as cartoons and not people - and I don't record what I say. Yeah, badness. I forget what I said. And I look crazy, because I'm usually walking outside when it happens. Yeah...
Moving on swiftly before someone sends psychiatric help (that's a defence mechanism called self-depreciation; I would advise trying it, but only if you don't take it too far). So, I imagine things like film reels. But not always. Obviously not always. If that was the case, I'd never pay attention to anyone. And that's obviously not true, because I recall too much at the wrong time. I have been told it's very annoying.
Other times when I imagine things - sometimes against my will (actually, mostly against my will) - it all comes in images, flashes of images in sequence, like I'm blinking really quickly. It's the same way I remember things, sometimes; I just get all these flashes. Sometimes I remember what people say in a similar sort of way. That's also considered annoying. Sometimes it's also considered helpful.
Now, one thing about imagining - sometimes we don't imagine, we remember. Weird, right? I know this is true because my good friend Rebecca Woodhead often gives me the advice of taking note of how something feels to use in a story, but not to re-imagine the event exactly as it happens, because... well, lots of reasons, not least of all being that those stories aren't always coherent. And, you know, they can annoy people. Other times, there's always the chance of reminding people about things they did when they were drunk. I've been told that''s annoying, too.
By the by, Rebecca has a novel coming out in e-book this month, and I'm sure she: (a) took her own advice of using emotions in any situation that in any way relates to her life and/or (b) used her imagination in a very interesting way to write a fantastic book. Personally, I can't wait for it. But I'm a tree-book person, not an e-book person. So I have to wait a bit longer.
Back to this imagination stuff... actually, that's about it. Except, I have a question: how do you imagine? I don't mean where do you get your ideas from, but how does the experience of imagining work for you? I am very curious to learn this, and I can't read people's thoughts (yet). Imaginary prize for the best comment! (Note: may be a story in which you get killed and/or find true love - I like writing those stories, because I'm a strange person... that's self-depreciation again. Yay!)
*Incidentally, that was an awkward sentence to phrase right. I hope you know what I meant by it!