The “Flyby” in Visionary Fiction, Part Two

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

Butterfly catchUnlike 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.

god-particle 3Fortunately, 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.

Flyby magi 2

The Magi Following a Flyby!



About Victor Smith

Victor E. Smith, a lifelong generalist with a diverse resume, sees himself as a scribe of the realm “in-between.” Writing largely visionary and historical fiction, he seeks to observe, absorb, and express those close encounters between the spiritual and material universes that form the unique adventure called human life. Vic is the author of The Anathemas: A Novel of Reincarnation and Restitution (2010) and Channel of the Grail (May 2016). He is a core team member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance. For further information, visit his website,
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25 Responses to The “Flyby” in Visionary Fiction, Part Two

  1. esdragon2 says:

    Lovely picture, Vic. Maybe they bring us a touch of magic, these Magi! And maybe magic itself is a Fliby.


  2. libredux says:

    Love the advice for hunting flybys there, Vic. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and all at the VFA.


  3. tuilorraine says:

    This discussion of flybies is one of the most interesting discussions I've ever read on writing. How natural to find it in the VF website! Great stuff Victor Smith.


  4. I second the comment above about this discussion being one of the most interesting I've read on writing. It reminds me of the book FROM WHERE YOU DREAM by Pulitzer prize winning author Robert Olen Butler, in which he writes about "the descent into the dreamspace of the unconscious," "a depth of concentration that must be surrendered to and cannot be willed."


    • tuilorraine says:

      I'm about to look up that book – thank-you Margaret.


    • Thanks, Margaret. Will look up that title also. On this subject I also like Terry Brooks, Lessons from a Writing Life: Sometimes the Magic Works. I was genuinely surprised, having thought about this concept as an essay for a while, how well it flowed with more images than I could use, when I got down to it. Tap a small hole into that underground river, and the waters come shooting forth.


  5. tuilorraine says:

    Do you know that after writing the above comment, I was sitting alone in a quiet house, the better half having gone off to family for Christmas. I had a pen in my hand and was scribbling on a piece of paper, not doodling – just meaningless scribbling, letting my pen wander free while my eyes stayed closed. I opened my eyes and found a picture before me – at least I saw a picture there. Others may only see a scribble.
    There was a being of some kind staring down into water and seeing more by watching what he saw reflected than he would see by normal looking. He was finding the relation between the reflecting surface and the depths beneath the surface, seeing higher towards freedom. Yet he himself was rooted to the spot in fear.
    I began to write notes all over the picture and around it. Then I scanned the whole thing and shoved it into my ideas file on my computer. Next thing I was envisaging the cover for the book and wrote copious notes about that.
    Felt amazing.Might not have happened if I hadn't read this post first. Thanks Victor!


  6. Love reading your description of flybys. It felt like I got to meander through Vic Smith's creative landscape and inspirational process. Really wonderful. I, too, find flybys come in quiet moments – like right before I fall asleep (hence the pad and paper by the bedside). And they also flash when I'm busy doing something else. Again, as you said, note taking is imperative because they dissipate rather easily unless grounded into some kind of form, in this case a note, or actually writing some dialogue or a scene. And I also find that by priming the pump – attending to a routine of writing – that the flybys flow more frequently.


    • Thanks, Jodine, and glad you included the routine of writing to prime the pump. I've made a habit of journaling from notes made during meditation just about every morning for the last 20+ years. It's gotten to the point where skipping this routine is worse than skipping coffee 🙂 And I'm a crank without coffee.


  7. Thanks, Esme. Off subject but I heard one the other day: What if the Magi instead of being three wise MEN had been three wise WOMEN? They would have gotten to the stable beforehand, cleaned the place up, and made sure there was a comfy bed ready for mom and baby. Instead of bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they'd have brought baby clothes, baby oil and diapers. Merry Christmas.


  8. It is a relief to read this, Victor, because in many writing circles I hang around the periphery of I would be told to "just write!" They don't seem to relate to all this talk of listening and having quiet moments, and being intuitive about a piece. To me, this is the way writing happens. The constant writing and forcing that gets recommended seems, well, forced. To each her own process. This is just one more confirmation this is my genre and this is my community.


  9. I found this an extremely valuable post. (And yeah, I find all of yours the same, Vic …) The practical notion of using a keyword in one's written ramblings and then letting the computer search for it, pulling the nuggets together, is great.

    And I love this: "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.)"

    I've put an embargo on my writing: I'm not working on any projects but the occasional comment like this one until after Jan. 1st. I published 4 books last year, and burnt myself out. Yet the flybys are circling, coming back en masse. Should I go back to work and capture them? Or give myself the break I need? If I don't grab those glimmers now, will they be GONE?

    Your technique suggests my "flies" may be retrievable. I'll give it a try.

    Best wishes for the holiday season, Vic and all!


  10. Victor, I have to laugh. I'm your first 2 followers on Pinterest. I got a notice that you'd joined, went to your page followed you. #1 right there. Then I clicked a bunch more people Pinterest said were new. Your page was there again, so I clicked it again. I'm follower #2! Strange. Product of flybys?


  11. reanolanmartin says:

    Beautifully written and so inspiring! Flybys are not snacks; they're essential nutrition for the visionary writer! Happy New Year to all you visionaries out there! xo


    • Rea, high praise coming from you. So happens I just finished your cup of Mystic Tea last week; and, as an former Catholic seminarian, I was highly entertained while being profoundly enlightened. Will have more to say when I get to do a full review. Would love to see a post from you here on the VFA site. You have taken VF in a delightful, and quite popular, direction, and I put you up there with the pace setters of our still fledgling movement.


      • reanolanmartin says:

        thanks so much, victor! I definitely plan to write a few posts, but am right at the end of my new book, The Anesthesia Game, fine-pointing. once I release it to the wild I can focus a bit more on the many fly-by's I've had in the past couple of months. I have written quite a few for huffpo on visionary/spiritual topics this year, but it does slow me down. so great to hear from you! a former seminarian, no less! : )


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