The Birds and the Blunderbusses

Once upon a time, someone looked up at the night sky and thought, “I wonder how you could get to the moon?” Our imaginations are so ceaselessly curious that it was a question humans were strangely incapable of not asking. If we could see it, we could imagine standing on it, and if we could imagine standing on it, we must begin asking ourselves how that might be accomplished. Yet what a far-fetched question this must have once seemed. We were so hopelessly earthbound. Even birds soared within range or our arrows and blunderbusses. What hope was there for us, whose leaps were a hiccup compared to the song of a bird’s flight, to reach the moon? No matter. We kept asking ourselves and asking ourselves until one day two brothers flew 120 feet. A mere 66 years later, there was Neal Armstrong.

No one would have ever set foot on the moon, however, if humans had not asked themselves, “I wonder if it is possible?” This simple question, married with desire, creates a fertile open space into which the imagination can by and by provide an answer. But if all those humans dreaming of reaching the moon had filled that open space with stories of birds and blunderbusses and all that seemed impossible, no answers would have come.

For all our ceaseless dreaming, humans spend a lot of time telling one another what is impossible. We might say, “It is impossible—well, nearly impossible to make a living as a fiction writer these days.” Perhaps, but nearly is all the imagination requires. Nearly is an open space, which might seem small at first glance, just as the moon had once seemed impossibly distant. How perception changes with our attention. Now the moon becomes a steppingstone to other stars, and the crack between possible and impossible becomes the portal through which you step into your life.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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