Until I read a recent blog post by Jeannie Ruesch on Writer Unboxed, I’d forgotten that not only reading but writing is magic, too. In her post, Ms. Ruesch quotes from Stephen King’s On Writing: “Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art.”
That quote sparked this post. Writing is magic. Characters pop into our heads, some fully formed, others only give us sneak peeks until we write their story. Sometimes they hint at a major road block to any type of relationship. Others are blatant about it. Digging into their pasts, making them open up can be quite a challenge. Non-writers may question this. You’re the writer. You made up those characters. Why don’t you know what they’re thinking? As many writers have discovered, characters don’t always behave the way we expect them to. They take on a life of their own and force us to listen to them. Secondary characters demand their own story. Villains insist they have good reasons for what they do. We grouse about that when it doesn't fit into our plans because we forget it’s magic.
While writing, we can enjoy a sunny Caribbean beach while it’s twenty below outside or a mountain retreat when everyone around us suffers through ninety degrees with ninety-nine percent humidity. The best time of year and location for our stories seem to flow from the story itself. While we are writing, we shut out the here-and-now and are transported to that place and time. That’s magic.
The spark that leads to a story can hit us in the middle of the night, while driving, or doing laundry. A first scene. An opening sentence. They seem to come out of nowhere. We have no idea why. In the middle of writing the current book, especially when we’re stalled, a strange character will pop up, saying I’m more fun, write my story. I used to call that my Muse talking to me. Now I think it’s magic.
Writing is a job. Like most jobs, we start out all bright-eyed, full of enthusiasm. After a while, the job can become onerous. The crunch of deadlines. Hours spent in promotion when we’d rather be writing. Great ideas fizzle out. Stress from outside sources undermines our creativity. Throw in other roadblocks and we forget what we knew in the beginning. Writing really is magic.
I’m too much a wuss to read Stephen King’s fiction, but On Writing is fabulous, a must-have for any writer, and an interesting read for non-writers. In her post, Ms. Ruesch recites other lessons she should have learned from that book. Like her, I’d forgotten them. I’m especially glad she reminded me about the magic.
Now if I could remember which unopened box that book is in, I would reread it.