For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
What do you see when you look up at the night sky?
It’s no secret I write about characters that inhabit a universe where space travel is commonplace. Visiting strange worlds and looking up to see stars twinkling in a unfamiliar night sky is nothing out of the ordinary for them. But, it wasn’t until I was mulling over a scene for my newest book that I realized I was missing an opportunity with my main character. What did he feel as he stood beneath that glorious canopy on a world not his own. Did he long for his home world and the familiarity of stars he would never see again? Find a measure of comfort that the stars remained when all else was gone? Or was he exhilarated by the vast mystery, ready to leap into the void and escape the past?
It was a bit of a jolt when I realized I couldn’t recall the last time I actually stepped outdoors and looked up. How could I possibly tap into Wulf’s feelings if I couldn’t remember how I felt as a stargazer? I’ve lived in many places over the course of my life, some where the stars are narrow strips between buildings and in others where the sky is so big I can almost see the curve of the world. I’ve felt lost in the vastness, small and insignificant, but I have always yearned to explore. Who knew what adventures were waiting for me.
As I stood outside I was struck anew by the beauty of the night. I took a deep breath of the cool night air and let the worries of the day drift away. I could almost imagine Wulf standing beside me whispering in my ear and I began to understand what he saw and what he was feeling. I will never stand on a strange planet and look at its night sky, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand what it means to be in a strange place and yearn for what was lost. Can I capture that part of him in words? I hope so.
When you get a chance take a moment and step outside. Look up at the night sky and dare to reach beyond yourself into that velvet darkness. You might be surprised what you discover.