In case you missed it, click here to read The “Flyby” in Visionary Fiction, Part 1.
Contrary to an impression possibly derived from Part One, flybys are not flukes. At first they may seem to appear by accident, luck or chance, which, if true, would make them a dastardly unpredictable source for a visionary story or anything else of worth. While keeping aside the worthy argument that nothing is truly accidental, let’s look at ways to increase the odds of returning from the hunt laden with healthy flybys .
The Intentional Flyby Hunter/Gatherer
Unlike the vast majority for whom living is akin to sleep-walking, the visionary is convinced (“I swear they’re out there”) that flybys are plentiful and ventures out with confidence to find, capture them His quest is intentional. Like the consummate fisherman, of whom it’s said that he does not find the fish but the fish find him, the visionary author sets out with the expectation—not mere hope or wishy-washy wish— that inspiration will cross his path.
He goes prepared with the means to capture his quarry. He knows that an infant flyby is a fragile critter, easily frightened off or bruised. It must be taken very gently so as to be kept alive and undamaged, and thus have the chance to grow to full potential.
If you’ve never been a flyby hunter yourself, you’ve certainly seen one around. Perhaps as an unusually quiet individual, ensconced in a corner at a coffee house or on a rock in the woods, alert eyes focused on something off in the distance, a scratch pad and pen or small recorder handy. Intermittently, she jots or whispers something, a word or phrase that indicates she is making contact with a flyby circling nearby. Pause, then another few words. This back and forth continues for a time, but eventually there is a burst of activity: words pour forth so fast that they threaten to spill over. A some point she will rush away, a wild but satisfied look in her eyes, not to be seen again for hours or days or months. She has successfully captured her flyby and spirited it off to her study for incubation—although if you asked her, she’d possible describe it the other way around: the flyby caught her, and it was she who was whisked off to birth a new dimension to herself.
Tools for Flyby Hunting and Gathering
Catching flybys, like the entire visionary process, involves an expansion of consciousness: looking beyond what normally is there to what more could be there. But the act of expansion requires a jump start, a shot of Miracle Grow: a existential crisis, a challenge in deep meditation, or just a self-kick in the butt, along with a readily available method or tool with which to “just do it.”
The note pad/pen or tape recorder mentioned above, pocketed as habitually as a wallet, is an example—that is, if it is removed and used at least as often as the wallet. Overuse rather than underuse is a good rule of thumb here; it’s easier to toss or erase than to reconstruct after the fact.
As we learned in Part One, flybys are self-accumulators; and following one’s chosen method regularly will get them to pile up quickly. Far better than nothing, but scribbled scratch pads, bulging notebooks and taped babble can fast turn into an overwhelming hodge-podge that earns only a frustrated “Fuggedaboutit,” as they put it in Brooklyn.
Fortunately, we live in the electronic age. With a smidge of computer savvy and a bit of personal discipline, we can file our ramblings in a way that recovery of anything takes only a few mouse clicks. Form the habit of typing any notes into your word processing program regularly, even daily. Don’t let notes pile up. Two months from now, if your scribble is like mine, you won’t be able decipher those notes, and their valuable surrounding context will likely be lost.
Learn and use the filing and search features of Windows Explorer or equivalent. It actually makes finding stuff sort of fun. For example: I first happened on the flyby phenomenon several years ago. I made notes on it at random intervals in my journal files done in Word, always using the word flyby somewhere in the entry. When I decided that it would be a cool subject for a VF post, I did a quick electronic search through several hundred journal pages for instances of the term. Copy/paste and in a half hour, I had several meaty pages of text to work with. The computer stored and retrieved a lot of good thoughts I’d “thunk” on the subject, but long forgotten.
Flybys for Growth in Personal Consciousness
Despite an obsessive interest in the supernatural, psychic, and uncanny from an early age, I was not born with unusual paranormal ability. I did envy those who claimed such powers but also thought they might be kooks. The only way I knew to establish the objectivity of such gifts to my own satisfaction was through self-experimentation. No space here to detail the validation process, but I can claim today to have a fair set of reliable “psychic” skills as well as the surety that these will improve with further similar exercise. Expertise in catching, taming, and interpreting flybys proved invaluable in researching and writing my VF novels; conversely and an unexpected bonus, writing VF significantly improved my psychic abilities.
Flybys, I noticed early on, like dreams, occurred when I was relaxed: during meditation, on quiet walks, while just “being there.” But then came a two-step challenge. Granted, when fully relaxed, beautiful things would fly by, the desired effect; but they also tended to fly off, which was to lose them like dreams left unrecorded. However, un-relaxing sufficiently to record the flyby in some form meant disturbing the very state that was enabling them.
After some experimentation with sit-still meditation, I found that I could retain a few key words or short phrases that captured the essence of the insight without having to break to write them down. Immediately after emerging from the meditation, I just jotted down what I could remember easily, later including them with any further amplification that resurfaced in a journal entry. Over time this practice allowed me to recover much more of the visionary experience than I thought possible. Sometimes I was surprised to find that a single word or phrase, the flyby label, brought back this way from that other realm, had an entire book attached to it. (Makes one wonder how many books disperse into the ether every day for lack of someone to catch their flyby’s tail.)
Such mindfulness processes, repeated gently but persistently, not only improved my memory, creative skills, and attention span, but also opened pathways to more exotic paranormal abilities: telepathy, clairvoyance, automatic writing, out-of body experiences, etc.
Let’s Go a Hunting…
To hunt and gather flybys is to operate with ever-increasing personal consciousness in the gossamer realm of intuition and intimation. It requires discipline to go there, imagination to see what’s there, and focus to bring home the bacon. Wrap these three with a willingness to experiment with an insouciance that expects miracles but accepts surprises over predetermined outcomes. The humble flyby might well be the portal to realms beyond our “wildest” dreams.