I want to talk about magic. I’m not personally particularly magical: my wishes rarely come true, I have yet to discover the secret of eternal youth and I can’t fly though I have always really, really wanted to and I lack even the most elementary skills of turning raw ingredients into delicious and nutritious feast for the senses. Even with all these inadequacies, however I am proud to stand up and boast my credentials as a somewhat inept practitioner of fundamental magics, the simple fireside spell casting of the story teller.
There is something arcane, mystical and almost supernatural about the telepathic power of text. The way in which through story we can live a million lives in a million different places: the ideas we have in our heads, the worlds we dream of and the invisible people we talk to as we go about our daily business are conveyed through the magical medium of words from our brains to those of our readers. Its not telepathy -it’s better than telepathy because we get rid of all the rubbish. We give our readers our best selves.
Someone like JK Rowling is a rather superior magical worker simply because of the number of young minds with which she has spoken. There is hardly a child between nineteen and twenty six whose imaginative life has not been shaped by her words on the page or her words transmuted further into images on the screen. Don’t you find that remarkable? I wouldn’t claim she is the greatest either or that you have to be great to be important. My own imagination is still fed by the long dead, CS Lewis, Thomas Hardy, the lovely Jane whose stories inform my every day view of the world.
I am editing my own work at the moment - never my favourite thing and am struck still by the power of this magic. I don’t mean I’m entranced or transported by my own wit and wisdom, I am not yet quite senile, but that pictures and ideas I had forgotten about are held within the text, like thoughts fixed in aspic.
I don’t really care about the medium used to record the words. They have the same effect whether hand scrawled in an exercise book or digitally reproduced on a kindle. We are quick to marvel at the magic of the technology and perhaps slower to recognise that when it all comes down to it the essential magic is ours: the bizarre power to make pictures in other people’s heads, to give the imaginary, form. So as you read this somewhat delayed posting ( as even minor magicians can sometimes be unreliable) and perhaps drink a coffee, toast yourself and our much underrated craft, celebrate the magicians of story.