When you make a wish, where does that wish really come from? Where does it go?
Imagine that you really did find that magic lamp, or the talking flounder, or a mysterious ring … and you were able to wish for whatever you wanted. What would it be?
You might begin with the desire for something personal and important to you in the moment. A new car, or a good job, perhaps.
Then you mull and mull, perhaps you sleep with the lamp under your pillow … and you wake up reflecting on the fact that, if you had only one wish, perhaps you’d better wish that your son gets accepted to college or Aunt Edna pulls through that operation… This kind of wish can become emotional and intense when you think about all the people in the world you love and care about want to help.
Mulling still longer, chances are you’ll tell yourself that, given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this one, you’d better make a difference to the world at large. What would you choose: No more hungry children? Save the whales? End war for all time?
Wishes are born way deep inside you, and go out into the world as we know it, creating goodwill and spreading love. Ultimately, the outcome doesn’t matter. There’s always something to be learned from making a wish, because making a wish is not as simple as it may at first appear. The magic lamp must be used with care. The generous flounder does its best to give the fisherman’s wife her heart’s desire, but it is not enough. The monkey’s paw is possibly the most troubling manifestation of a wish imaginable. Making a wish often leads to trouble.
Making a wish is another lens through which we as writers can experience life.
Writing Practice: Three Kinds of Wishes
- wishing for something for one’s self
- wishing for something for someone else
- wishing for something for the world at large.
Part 1: Make a wish for yourself
Write a fairytale that includes your opportunity to make three wishes. Think about these wishes carefully – they should be things you want for yourself very, very much.
In order to relax and enjoy your way into this practice, write in a fairy-tale style. Begin with “Once upon a time …” and end fairly traditionally. In between, enjoy the details: the silks and satins, the rubies and emeralds, the archetypal characters, the magic lake. Elaborate on three wishes that you yourself would choose, if you were given the chance, and imagine what would happen if those three wishes came true.
State each wish as you move through the story – and why is it important to you.
Describe what happens once it is granted.
End with the consequence.
Part 2: Make a wish for someone else.
In order to do this exercise you need to step outside yourself and imagine what it must be like to be someone else. You need to be quiet and go inwards, in order to go outwards.
But don’t limit yourself to something you think your friend ‘needs.’ Imagine something grand – this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Perhaps you think he or she should be able to understand the language of animals! Or fly to the moon! Or maybe it’s a hand-carved toy train set… Try to get into their hearts to think about this exercise. Then write a short description of who the person is for whom you’re giving this wish, and include your connection.
Precede your wish with an introduction: “I have a dream for you…” or “In all my wanderings, I searched high and low, and found this…” or “I shot an arrow into the air…”
Part 3:Make a wish for the world.
Holiday wishes often fall into this category: “Peace on Earth” or “Joy to the World.”
What are the themes that you are concerned about at this time of year? What charities move you the most? Do you wish you could cure blindness? What about all those puppies and kittens at a shelter you saw – would you like to see them all adopted in the next few days?
Get a piece of paper and write out your wishes. As you begin, you’ll see that the phrases begin to flow on to the page. Make them in arcs, and upside down, and use dashes and exclamation marks and little doodles to decorate them. Fill out the page with your wishes as though they are beautiful snowflakes.
- the shape of letters
- fresh oranges
- holding hands in the dark
- ostriches looking over the fence
- a sackful of handmade toys
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