Imagination is a wonderful beautiful thing. But sometimes real life is even better, showing us things we couldn't imagine.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought my little sister would work as a volunteer dental assistant in Africa. Yet in the last three years, she's visited Burkina Faso, lived in a guarded house in Liberia (buried a stranger and watched her dog die of rabies) and worked off a medical ship in Togo (was in lock down for three days because of gasoline price riots). She is currently in Sierra Leone, ready to give us a new story. You'll find the triumphal story of a young woman named Aminata on her blog, Tooth Fairy Tales.
There are lots of amazing people doing incredible things all over the world. I think, as writers, part of our job is to search out those stories and tell them. As William Zinsser says, "Writers who go on spiritual quests put themselves in a position to observe spiritual transactions. But I could also argue that I was put there by God--a God who wants to make sure His best stories get told." (pg.182, Marlowe & Company, New York)