Though I believe in something that might be called magic, I don’t believe in dragons. I mean I don’t believe that actual, fire-breathing dragons walk this earth. I believe dragons, like vampires, werewolves, and zombies, are a vivid product of the supple and searching collective human imagination. But I don’t believe they are real. I don’t believe I’ll ever run into one. Somewhere somebody does, I’m sure. Likely, this person has begun to accumulate dragon evidence. Perhaps an enormous footprint or a weirdly large scale; perhaps there are stories from Himalayan villagers or Peruvian farmers; perhaps there are grainy pictures or shaky videos. All of this evidence would have great meaning to a believer in dragons. To a person like myself, the only evidence that would have any meaning at all would be a live dragon rearing back to scorch me with its violent breath.
If I should ever meet a believer in dragons, I hope I will have the wisdom to listen to their dragon stories without contempt. Most human discovery begins with the belief in what we cannot see. A writer discovers a story that lives unseen and untold within her and which is found only through the continued belief in a feeling of excitement and curiosity, a feeling that holds her interest so that ideas can come and shape this feeling into something other people can see and feel and be excited by.
Meanwhile it is strangely impossible to see what you do not believe exists. Perhaps I have been living my entire life surrounded by dragons. I have to admit that I don’t really care because I do not see the benefit in living in a world filled with dragons and so I remain content never to have met one. But if you believe in dragons, keep looking for one. Our time spent searching for what we believe is real is never time wasted. You will absolutely find what you are looking for, though like the best stories, the end may be as surprising as it is satisfying.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.