“‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice.
‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’
Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast…’”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.
It is the job of the creative writer to believe impossible things…not only to believe them oneself, but to create a space within the imagination that invites the reader in to share that belief, if only while the words dance on the turning page. The best writers create a belief that changes our perception of reality, not just for the duration of the book we are reading, but beyond the monochrome landscape of print, adding colour and possibility to the world we walk each day.
Lewis Carroll is one such writer… the impossible worlds in which Alice finds herself may simply be read as entertaining tales. Others find in them allegories and symbols, still others simply delight in their nonsense. Yet there is something about them, an authenticity, which says, unequivocally, that Carroll himself had been there. Unless rabbit holes have something in common with wormholes, then this seems unlikely. Mirrors, of course, are well known for their magical properties…
So how could Carroll visit these fantastic worlds and converse with caterpillars? He must have taken Alice’s advice and remembered things he had never seen. Memory is, at best, an unreliable tool if we seek historical accuracy… we never see more than our own view of any event and perception colours truth. All writers rely on memory to create the worlds within their books, just as we all rely on it to interpret the world as we traverse each day. But to remember that which you have not yet seen… and believe impossible things? There, of course, lies total creative freedom… a reality unarguable and a unique experience from which only you can write.