One of the first books I read about the craft of writing was Stephen King’s On Writing. To my shame, it sat unopened on my bookshelf for a good year. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror and as King is The King of make-you-jump fiction, I was (daftly) worried that the book was going to be all about how to write scary stuff. It wasn’t. It isn’t.
On Writing is that wonderful mix of encouragement, biography and practical writing advice. Stephen King’s journey reminds you that, no matter what your struggles, your job as a writer is to keep believing in your stories and your voice – and above all, to persevere. His early days were those of a penniless writer washing maggots out of restaurant table-clothes; since then, he’s been at the top of the bestseller chart more than just about any writer.
So, back to you as a magician. Here’s one of my favourite quotations from On Writing:
In a world dominated by the most incredibly complex electronic gadgets, the old-fashioned paperback can seem a little tired – and a hard sell to the young people we writers try to inspire. And yet, as Stephen Kings says, books are magic. More magical than any apple device.
No need for electricity.
No need to log on.
No need for a screen.
Or for a charger.
Simply your words, your reader and your shared imaginations. That’s magic too, as King says elsewhere in On Writing:
Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.
And he’s right about another thing: stories are portable. Super portable with Kindles but even more portable in the form of a paperback that can be stuffed into a bag or a pocket, that won’t run out of battery, that you can read in the bath, drop in the sea, that you can cover in sun-lotion, that you can write in, that has pages you can fold over and return to – that accompanies you as you make your way through the world.
Even when a reader is busy doing other things, a quick glimpse at the cover will flip the switch and remind him of that magical world he’s living in, a world that often feels more alive than his everyday life. A world he shares with you, the author.
And here’s some bonus magic: even when a reader has put your story away, his mind will still be thinking about it, picturing the scenes, wondering what the characters are going to get up to next, living the life of the novel in parallel to his own.
So, as you think about your story today, remember that you’re not just a writer, you’re a magician too.
Happy Writing x