I've long ago accepted the fact that I don't see the world the way most others do. I'm not talking about "seeing the world" in an aspect of political or social views, but in a more physical sense. I don't actually SEE things for how they necessarily appear. I've always been that way, even when I was a child.
The imagination has always been very vivid for me, so much so that the things I imagine nearly become visible. They don't actually appear, but they come close. I think most writers fall prey to this peculiar disorder. We look at the world through a different lens. Some believe it's a clearer perception of the what is really there. Other's consider it a faulty smudge that distorts reality. I won't take sides. I simply enjoy the fact that I can see stories in the most mundane of objects. It makes life more interesting.
The photo above is of a tree I came across in the Black Forest region of Germany on my recent vacation. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it's atop a small mountain. I was alone in a gondola as I took the picture and the kindred loneliness of this tree struck me. It drew me in. I felt the pull of a story somewhere under its bark, in the way its branches stuck out like the arms of kids spinning in circles as they try not to collapse in a dizzy sickness.
There were characters all around it. I could sense them. It felt fairy tale-ish in nature. Perhaps that's just because I was in the Black Forest, place of the Grimm's. I was seeing illustrated figures moving around, hearing their voices like the faint echoes of ghosts. While others may see a tree, I was lucky enough to see an entire world playing out just for me.
What compels me to write these these visions down, to shape them and make them a completed story, is really a selfish desire to inhabit that imagined place a little longer and in more depth than the faded glimpses that I catch here and there. Fully fleshing out those worlds is like stepping through the Looking Glass. It's a transportation into the imagination. A free ticket to ride. Express exit into enjoyable escapism. Though, I'm not sure it can be called escapism because I'm not sure those places we visit in our head aren't any less real than what the scientist would refer to as the natural universe.
The finished story is really the time in which the author leaves that world. Having visited as long as I could, I must finally come home. Any work of fiction then is basically a travel diary. The joy of letting other people read and find pleasure in it comes from allowing others a peek into a place they may not have seen, but always sensed was there. It's like opening a window and pressing someone's face through the hole...shouting HEY! LOOK AT THIS!...and always vaguely hoping to see them smile at the sight of it.