The Magic of the Written Word

Writers are magicians of sorts.  Particularly fiction writers. The pen is a magic wand used to conjure up people, places, and things out of thin air.  In some instances whole worlds or galaxies are created.  That’s quite a trick.  Writers poses the power to transport readers across space and time—a combination time machine and teleporter.

If this magical power is properly wielded authors can elicit awe, laughter, anger, tears, horror, or empathy, among other things.  The art and craft of fiction writing is the ability to define that which has never existed before.  The spell of words are employed to bring to life characters who have never drawn an actual breath; define surroundings that have never know substance, dimension or distance; call up creatures and monsters from the depths of Hell or angles from the upper reaches of Heaven.

A writer’s wizardry can place the reader inside the head of another being to watch through their eyes or grant the God-like power of omniscience, allowing one to float above the action making them privy to everyone’s inner most thoughts and emotions. In even some rare instances the reader can be made the star of the show through a second person point of view. If incanted in just the right order, words can dispel someone’s worries and hold the howling world at bay for a few hours at a time, creating a reader’s oasis.

I watched a movie the other night called Anonymous. It’s premiss was that William Shakespeare was an opportunistic pawn rather than the author of the sublime works that are celebrated under his name. It contends rather that the words were secretly penned by the aristocratic and titled 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.  There is a lovely scene when he describes not only his passion but the life-preserving necessity to commit the voices in his head to parchment. Many consider a person with voices in his head as a mad man.  There is often a fine line between psychotic and artistic.

I don’t know if I look upon myself as a wizard or magician as much as I see myself as an artist, that is a practitioner of the arts.  Rarely does the magic come from me, more often it comes to me.  There are times when the story seems to be writing itself.  I am undoubtedly showing my age but anyone who remembers the Captain Kangaroo Show might recall Magic Drawing Board.  I was fascinated as a child at how the drawings would appear on the board without the apparent aid of a draftsman.  At times the art of writing seems much like that and I sit in awe of words collecting on the page while it seems like I have little to do with the process.

Maybe it’s time for a little magic of your own…

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illustration by Andy Black


2 comments on “The Magic of the Written Word

  1. Oh yes, that’s right–and we don’t pull bunnies out of our hats, no sir. That’s little leagues. No, we pull worlds and galaxies and people from our hats.

    …all the more reason we could all use some stylish headwear. Need to work on that part myself, though.

    Nice post!

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