A.M. Wilhelm | Icarus 10.0
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Icarus 10.0

A warm stream trickled down his neck, continuing down his back. His heart jolted against his ribcage as comprehension stabbed his mind—the wax had melted.


Father, I should have listened. He glanced downwards. The light of the treacherous sun glinted off the waves. They looked excited to claim him. He pleaded for another chance to gods he wasn’t sure were listening.

Incredibly, they heard him and time rewound. He pledged to be more careful. He flew close to the sea, enlivened by its pulsating power. A large wave splashed over him. His wings dampened and wouldn’t lift. Gaping jaws of water stretched wide to await his sacrifice.

His voice tremulous with fear, he asked, One more try, please.

Somberly, he picked up the large wings and fastened them to his back. He repeated to himself—not too high, not too low. Subtle movements, small corrections, are all that is needed. The pull of sun and sea must be ignored. Best to look where I am going. He focused on the whisper of islands in the distance.

* * *

As writers, we desire to fly straight to the sun, drawn by its warmth, light, and power. The pull is inherent, compelling. It speaks to the dreamer in us. In time, however, we learn that it is in the journey that our dreams take form. The small adjustments necessary to stay on course become our satisfaction. They supplant the desperate need to reach the destination–if we are lucky.

Removing an adjective or adverb. Pressing delete more than we would wish. Declining the night out because we have a deadline (even if it is self-imposed). These are the traits of a serious author.

Of course, we want to soar–bestsellers and the like. But to do that successfully requires working on all the mundane details. It is labor, but like all industriousness, provides satisfaction. The sun and the sea are indeed enticing. They are large, beautiful, and crave our attention. But let us reach safety first by flying diligently and safely and doing all that is needed to get there. Then, we can turn around to absorb all the beauty above and below. And know that we have earned the pleasure of this new perspective, even as we savored the journey of arriving.

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