Do you know what it feels like to be aware of every star, every blade of grass? Yes. You do. You call it ‘opening your eyes again.’ But you do it for a moment. We have done it for eternity. No sleep, no rest, just endless… endless experience, endless awareness. Of everything. All the time. How we envy you, envy you! Lucky humans, who can close your minds to the endless deeps of space! You have this thing you call… boredom? That is the rarest talent in the universe! We heard a song — it went ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’ What power! What wondrous power! You can take a billion trillion tons of flaming matter, a furnace of unimaginable strength, and turn it into a little song for children! You build little worlds, little stories, little shells around your minds, and that keeps infinity at bay and allows you to wake up in the morning without screaming!Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32; Tiffany Aching, #2)
I think it would be terrible to be omnipotent. The quote above is not about omnipotence, exactly, but it suggests an interesting question. How could any human, given that we are so good at tuning out the world around us not only it will but sometimes even without making a conscious decision to do so, understand omnipotence? How could we understand or begin to contemplate infinity?
Because we are so far from omnipotence we create stories to explain the things we don’t understand. As it says in another Terry Pratchett book, the sun doesn’t come up, a big ball of burning gas rises in the sky. We write what we know, and when we don’t know we fill it in with something that. Because what is a single fantasy novel if not one author’s answer to a self-posed “what if” question?
One of my characters in Growing Magic is omnipotent on his own ground, meaning he is omnipotent but with limits. So he’s not really omnipotent. He doesn’t know everything. And that puts writing this character right back in my wheelhouse, because I am an expert at not knowing everything! He no longer usually has a corporeal form, so when he appears in the story that way it’s difficult for him to be so limited by that form. I’m drawing on ideas from Hitchhiker’s Guide, Discworld, and even a little bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey to help frame my ideas for this character concept. (Is it weird that two out of three of these examples aren’t fantasy?) To be aware of so many things all at once, 360° in 3D, and to only focus on one spot and one conversation, one or two threads of sound amongst a massive symphony of the world around you must be very difficult indeed. And yet this is a character who would never be able to tell a story, or write a song, or distill any of the beautiful things that he knows into a painting.