So, I’m back at my everyday magic again, trying to spin gold out of words and phrases, to make a story out of thin air. Some days I wonder why I do it. But other people don’t ask me that. They usually ask: “How do you do it? How do you make up a story?”
Hmm. Good question. First (and probably last to come sit down at my table, at least), you have to Trust that you can do it. But until you’ve done it, how do you trust you can?
That’s where the magic comes in. Just go ahead and do it. Several dozen times. The first few will stink like rotting fish in August, like week-old baby’s diapers, like–you get the idea. Eventually, you’ll get better. And slowly, Trust will pop up its tiny little head.
Ignore it and keep going.
After all, Trust is frail, fragile. Determination will stay with you when trust dies, again and again, and when Hope flees, knowing better than to stick around. Pure Cussedness will keep you typing when even you know the words are stinking. And, eventually (like I said), you’ll get better. And yes, you’ll even learn to trust yourself to get better again when you do stink the room up.
“But, where do you get the idea?” is always the next question, if not the first. I didn’t believe it at first, but ideas are a dime a dozen. Really. Don’t believe me? OK, go search online for magazines printing modern versions of Fairy Tales. Penumbra just put one out. Cabinet des Fees is all about Fairy Tales. Fairy tale anthologies come out often. Try Wicked East Press‘s Father Grimm’s Storybook, coming soon. Or just look at current movies and TV shows. Do you already know the story, the fairy tale each is based upon? Sure. But it’s how the writer looked at the angle that makes it interesting. A good writer could tell a great story about a brick and pot of honey, one that’d have us all oohing and aahing, wondering “How did she ever get that idea?” (and if you write it, link to it here. Please! I’d love to read it!)
So, find something you’re interested in, something you won’t mind living with for awhile. Horses, let’s say. And magic. Hmm, sounds like Caitlin Brennan’s series with Luna Books. OK, so make yours different. Maybe your horses make magic. How? Do they sing it? Well, then maybe…maybe it should be about hamsters and magic, since hamsters sing. And since they’re small creatures, the magics they make are small, easily overlooked by us big, clumsy humans.
To me, this sounds like a kids’ story, but with some interesting tweaks, you could make it for adults. Maybe the newly-made stay-at-home dad discovers the magic when his kids are at school. How? What does he do with this knowledge? That’s your story, the parts you fill in as you go along, as you discover them. (This is where Trust comes back in. You have to trust that you’ll stumble onto the story while figuring this stuff out. Or at least I do, being the pantster [seat-of-the-pants writer] that I am.)
So, there you have it. I haven’t written this. It just popped out now. Want to write about it? Go ahead. If you do, please link to it here, just so I (and anyone else out there reading this) can see all the variations that are possible.
Anyway, this is why themed anthologies are so fun. You’re given a starting point (often the hardest part, since as a writer, you can begin anywhere), and then anything goes. Stories diverge after the theme is met, and go dark or funny, sentimental or odd.
And that is why you should write. No one else could tell the story you would tell, in the way you would tell it. Your hamsters would be different from mine, and mine are different from, say, Cinda William Chima’s. Not better, not worse, just different.
And there is the magic, right there. In the words. In the telling. So stop reading this. Go write a bit of magic.