What Might Be
This morning I had the pleasure of talking to a high school senior in Missouri who’s recently completed and is hoping to publish a book for middle grade readers. This young woman is a big chemistry fan, and the book is intended to introduce middle school girls to the pleasures of science. She had a lot of questions about the publishing process, to which I mostly answered, “It’s hard to say, but if you really love this book, you’re in good shape.” The scientist-artist is an interesting combination. Science is largely and examination of what is, whereas the artist must focus on what might be. There are times I envy the scientist. Some days I wish I could pick up a rock, crack it open, look at it very, very, very closely and find in its crevasses that day’s essay.
But there is nothing to pick up or crack open. In fact, it is that very nothingness that is the source of all the pleasure and terror that comes with the arts. This thing wasn’t there before and now it is, all because I laid my attention upon it for a period of time. How real all of life feels in that moment, both what is and what could be, the line between what we call dream and reality narrowing to a thought.
But oh, the terror that can come from looking at what is, while what holds my interest is yet to be. Now my dream feels like fantasy because I can’t touch it. Now all of life is reduced to the rubble I suddenly mistake for reality, a heap of old ideas through which I find myself sorting for some evidence of what might be. There is nothing there. Only the imagination could resurrect these bones, only that spark could light the fire we all know as life.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.