Books · Creativity · Writing

Making Magic

Do you ever feel like being creative is like making magic? It feels that way to me, especially when I’ve written something that I feel is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the majority of the stories I write (they’re never perfect, but close enough). It’s just that every so often I write one that, when I’m finished, I feel is just…well, just a damn fine story.

I’ve had a few of those. Even with repeated readings I still feel a chill when I set it down. And it’s not just stories I’ve written. I’ve read fiction by other authors that has that same effect on me. There are also paintings and songs that hit all the right notes and give me tingles on all my nerve endings.

Isn’t that what magic is all about? Giving the audience a sense of wonder, of displacement from reality, of something otherworldly. There’s nothing supernatural about it, it’s just art that hits all the right pleasure points. It thrills, it excites, it releases endorphins or something into our systems. And most of all, it’s rare.

The thing is, art like that is difficult to reproduce. I know that I can’t define the specific ingredients. It’s like coming up with a recipe in the kitchen that everyone loves, but the next time you make it, well, it doesn’t turn out the same. Even if you write down the recipe and follow it exactly it just seems to be missing something. Maybe it was the mood you were in when you made it, or the temperature of the room, or the time of year. It’s still good, satisfying, but it’s just not the same.

Like catching lightning in a bottle.

I think this is one of those things that I just have to accept. And in a way, I think it’s good that we can’t create something magical every time we write. That would end up being boring, wouldn’t it? Redundant? Having it happen every so often makes us appreciate it more when it does happen.

After thinking about this for a while I’ve realized that I don’t think I’ve ever read more than one magical story or novel from the same author. Well, except for Raymond Carver. He wrote two stories that resounded with me. The first one that blew me away was “Cathedral“. It was the first story of his that I ever read. After that I went through all his stories. The other one that I felt was magical was “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love“. If you haven’t read them, please check them out. They’re both quick reads, but so well-written and so powerful. At least, they are to me. I hope you feel the same.

But that magic, that’s something we all strive for but rarely achieve. The point, however, is that we continue to try. That’s all that matters. Magicians don’t get their tricks right every time and writers won’t, either.

Just keep on writing. The magic will happen when you least expect it.

RB

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