Experience Necessary (Mostly)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past week, it is that, whereever possible, I need to experience what I’m writing about.

Maybe not the ghost part, or the fantasy lands, but as much as I can I should actually do and see what I am trying to write.

You may have noticed that my city is currently caught up in the Olympics. It’s close enough to me that I could go and see the time trial cycling, and everywhere I go, I see Olympic volunteers and Olympic athletes and trainers. It’s exhilarating – which was the one emotion I didn’t expect.

I had written an Olympic story before it came here. It’s not a bad effort. I write about the excitement and the passion surrounding the actual events. But it had never occured to me to write about the atmosphere of just being in the same city as the Olympics. That odd excitement when I see athletes train on the same paths I run, or the politeness, almost honour in the way we treat the Olympic volunteers.

I certainly could never have imagined watching the cyclists come out of sunshine and cycle into a thunderstorm. That’s a special image.

And the fact that a TV advert for the Olympics could reduce me to tears was something I could not have imagined.

Imagination can fill up a lot of gaps. There are things I will never feel or see that I need my imagination for. But where possible, I need to experience what I plan to write about, because the reality forms the basis for my imagination to create.

I never knew, for example, that there is a certain unique scent about Paris in the early morning. But now that I do, I can write that from knowledge, and let my imagination soar from that fact.

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