“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” – Toni Morrison
I am not going to step into this article and pretend like I know T. Morrison at length. I am not even going to pretend like I know her very much at all. If ever I have cracked open one of her stories, I can’t recall it now.
However, what I do know is she thought deeply about the status of socioeconomic and racial conditions in America, the marvel of children, as well as how to cast words in their own beautiful economy.
What I love most about Morrison’s above statement is that it equates the shape and extent of your imagination directly with a display of power. Doing so suggests a nature of potential impact which writing can possess. To be able to wield words in new, interesting, and creative ways is both a measure of skill and evidence that we can develop further ‘power’ by growing alongside our craft. If a story or idea is too intimidating, we can rise to the challenge.
The juxtaposition of the relationship between foreign and familiar shows Morrison has keen understanding of how words can influence ideas. In much the same way as words can make one second last ten pages or a millennia last one sentence, the way we choose to fill in the minds of our readers regarding the subject is completely within our hands.
(Image credit to Pajunen on Deviantart.)