A writer with a loud, wide, boom of a voice opens to the first page of his short story.
What I don’t know about the world could fill 12 city buses, he reads.
I listen. I’m sure that what I don’t know about the world could fill 12 airline hangars or Dodger Stadiums or planets. But I do know that I enjoy leaning against an unlit fireplace and listening to this writer’s story fill up a summer night.
The writer finishes. The audience claps. I lean forward and raise my hand. There is a question I always want to ask writers, sculptors, anyone who puts things out into the world that didn’t exist there before.
“Where did you start?” I ask the writer. By which I mean, How did you take those first steps into the wilderness?
The first line, the writer tells me. I just have a first line that I know and I follow that off. I never know where I’m going or what’s coming.
He smiles, like this is a hard thing and a joyful thing. Then he goes onto the next question.
But I’m still on his answer. It feels like he’s just opened up all the windows for me. If you’re standing at the doorstep of the unknown with nothing but a one-line idea, that’s enough to walk through the door, he seems to be saying.
So, you walk. It’s hard, there’s fear, doubt, all those demons. But the thing I can forget is: it’s joyful, too. Because you’re moving. You’ve decided your idea – however small – is more important than your fear – however large. Which is, in no small part, a decision to not live life at the doorstep of the unknown.
I lean back against the fireplace. The questions and their answers are almost over. The night is cooling down. I’m thinking about the things I want to start, the things I want to put out into the world. And the unknown feels a little less impossible.
Even if it could fill 12 city buses.