Just My Imagination… Running Away with Me…

Paula’s Post #23 – You can hear it, can’t you? The Temptations number one hit single from 1971. You know the one, sure you do.

In the first two verses of the Motown hit, the narrator establishes his relationship to his ‘dream girl’ – out of all the fellas in the world, she belongs to him.

Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by.
I say to myself, you’re such a lucky guy.
To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true.
Out of all the fellas in the world, she belongs to me.

He later reveals they are preparing to marry and raise a family, build a cozy home out in the country…. Only in the final versus do we learn that the ‘love’ is all in the narrator’s imagination:

(Her love is) heavenly.
When her arms enfold me.
I hear a tender rhapsody.
But in reality, she doesn’t even know me.

Just my ‘magination, once again.
Running away with me.
Oh, tell you it was just my ‘magination,
Running away with me.

I never met her but I can’t forget her.
Just my ‘magination,
Ooo yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Running away with me.

Ooo, just my ‘magination running away with me.
She’s in my mind and hard to find.
Just my ‘magination…

And what, you ask, do the lyrics of some dusty old Motown ballad have to do with a blog about writing?


Imagination. That’s where our stories always start. In our imagination. Think about it for a moment. My novel is nothing more than ‘just my imagination’, running away with me.

In every novel, every word after: Once Upon a Time, is entirely dependent upon the power of the writer’s imagination.



noun \i-ˌma-jə-ˈnā-shən\

Definition of IMAGINATION

: the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality
a : creative ability

b : ability to confront and deal with a problem :resourcefulness <use your imagination and get us out of here>

c : the thinking or active mind : interest <stories that fired the imagination>

a : a creation of the mind; especially : an idealized or poetic creation

b : fanciful or empty assumption

Who in their right mind would have imagined a bestselling trilogy based on the concept of children forced to fight to the death for the amusement of others? Okay, come to think of it, maybe that’s not the best example, since the Romans pretty much had that covered almost 2000 years ago.

Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy, has revealed the inspiration for her bestselling novels came from channel surfing.

 “I was very tired … and I was flipping though images on reality television where these young people were competing for a million dollars or whatever, then I was seeing footage from the Iraq war, and these two things began to fuse together in a very unsettling way, and that is the moment where I got the idea for Katniss’s story.”

Taste of the Past, a collaborative novel I wrote with fellow 5writer Helga, was inspired by my trip to Villa Delia, Umberto Menghi’s idyllic Tuscan cooking school. Once I visited the villa, I just knew I had to write a culinary mystery set in an imaginary Tuscan villa. Had I not, Agatha Christie would have rolled in her grave.

Villa DeliaBut once I had the setting and the genre, I was, well, stuck. I needed more. I needed characters and plot and dialogue. My ‘magination was running, but it wasn’t really running away with me.


My imaginary friends had stopped talking to me.

Then, quite by accident, while researching my husband’s Scottish roots, I stumbled upon a surprising discovery: during WW II, Italian POW’s captured by the Allies in North Africa were imprisoned in Scotland. Coincidentally, one of the camps was located in Newton Stewart, a town I’d visited with my husband to see the rellies.

Suddenly, I had a spark of an idea. My imagination kicked in and I had the rudiments of a plot and some ideas for characters.

About this same time, Helga, and I were introduced by a mutual friend. Within an hour of meeting, we decided to write a novel together.


Ya think? I mean we barely knew each other. And, at the time, my idea for this novel was still little more than a small flame, burning not-so-very-brightly.

But Helga, who’d just returned from cooking school in France, helped fan that flame with her enthusiasm, talent and culinary expertise. With the “power of two” on our side, we fleshed out the setting and acquired a full cast of quirky characters. All from our imagination.

Victorian Women

Oh come on! It wasn’t that long ago!

Anyway, enough about Taste of the Past. We’re still hoping to get that one published and I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving away too much of the plot.

But I am intrigued about where our stories and characters come from. If you’re a writer, perhaps you’d like to share the inspiration for your stories? What got your ‘magination ‘running away with you?”

4 thoughts on “Just My Imagination… Running Away with Me…

  1. the better question is where don’t they come from? Feral came out of my life long love of cats and observing them, combined with the fact that I’d wanted to use a subway system in a novel for over 15 years – I just didn’t have the right combination of elements. When my brother in law told me the story of how he’d come to acquire his cat, Gidget, by finding her in a NY subway station and taming her, the elements came together, and I had 75% of the story. It wasn’t until a totally imaginary character woke up on the subway platform and spoke to the cat that the final 25% kicked in and the story came alive. It still took a number of writings and rewritings (the biggest and best after I’d sold the book) before the story gelled into anything close to what I saw in my imagination, though.

  2. Ah, the memories! Why was the process of writing Taste of the Past so satisfying? Well first of all, the setting. Who wouldn’t want to dwell on that beautiful Tuscan villa, even just in the mind? To start each day of writing with that gorgeous image, transported to the magical Tuscan landscape? But there was also the food, oh my, the food. We actually cooked some of those things that we wrote about, much to the delight of family and friends. We shared those delicacies with our imaginary characters. How much more intimate can writing get?

  3. Damned if I know where these characters come from. I’ve surprised myself by having characters walk into my head out of nowhere, with no resemblance whatsoever to people I actually know, or even know of. At least, not that I’m conciously aware of. I even dream about characters I don’t know and have never seen. In fact, when I start trying to give them attributes that will help me find a place for them in my plot, they often flat refuse — or worse, they morph instantly from 3-dimensions to 2-dimensions.

    • I’m like you, Silk. My best ideas come out of nowhere, when I’m not even thinking about writing or trying to have an idea. My wife compares it to sitting on a picnic blanket and suddenly feeling bird droppings on your head. The bird’s gone, and didn’t mean anything by it, but you have to decide what you’re going to do with or about it. That’s how she describes “creativity.” Just one more damned thing she’s right about.

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