Imagination, I've heard, is the vehicle which tranports those who have neither the will, nor the courage, nor the fortitude to go where their heart begs them go. An excuse for inaction, a way of assuaging that God-given drive to experience without risk or danger of loss.
Or maybe it's an escape, a world far removed from the all-too-real heartache that all too often permeates everyday life. The imagination is the most effective painkiller for those ailments of the variety which affect only the heart.
What then is fiction? A product, almost exclusively, of the imagination. Is it, then, an excuse for not living? Because living is not living at all if it's done in the mind only, at the full expense of the heart.
A well-told story is the product of a healthy imagination. But then if we make the assumption that a healthy imagination is a hallmark of one who is weak of heart and without courage, are good storytellers then all of timid heart, and lacking in courage? I would hope not as storytelling is among my highest aspirations.
No, I prefer to think of the imagination as a great explorer, blazing paths into uncharted territories, making way for the heart to journey to places it's only dreamed of, but could not go until the mind was able to fully imagine, or even experience, it. To imagine a story is merely to create the destination. Those with truly valiant hearts then apply their energies to finding that destination.
If I can imagine, and vividly depict my imaginings to you, my readers, then I have enabled those readers who have lion's hearts to reach that destination, to go to that place that their heart is calling them to.