An old and new kind of magic
Is the music of Rachmaninov,
A man of pain and purpose,
Who knew the grief of the heart,
And the power of the will.
I will listen and have my fill
Of chords of blood and sunlight,
Of anathemas in the night
Of the cries no one hears
Of the beauty, crystal cold,
Written in tears.
Here was a man who went to Hell
And was retrieved after three years.
Here was a man who –
Perhaps without a thought for God –
Was gifted by His Creator some of heaven’s
Greatest paeans and the prophets’ greatest laments.
Here was man who wrote from the depths of his soul
With dark, navy lines, profound and intense.
Sure, I would never write like a classic author – I don’t think I could to save myself. But publishers are not looking for books written like the old classics any more. Nevertheless, I love that retro stuff. It does wonders for my writing.
I never really struggle to say what I want any more. It’s not a struggle to write intense action scenes or difficult dialogues … or, it’s not as much of a struggle as it used to be. I find the words come to me faster, and I can arrange my thoughts quicker.
The old books often demonstrate mastery in areas like character and plot development – two large concepts that are not dealt with as justly today as they were in yesteryears. One only has to look at books like Fifty Shades of Grey to see that plot and character development are slipping in some of our best-sellers.
And writing shouldn’t be about selling. It should be about saying something well – communicating an idea worth thinking about. Many classics did this excellently. Do modern books do as well in this department? I’m not one hundred percent sure.
Writing a book
Is 3% inspiration
69% incorporating real people you don’t like
78% death by chocolate
104% misanthropic tendencies
114% imagining the most horrible deaths possible for your characters
131% writing about your love life or preferences in the opposite gender
193% death by coffee
201% lack of nutrition
243% obesity or atrophy
251% vitamin D deficiency
345% crying over unnecessarily cruel rejection slips
354% ridiculous determination
And 500% insane fun that no one else on the planet will understand.
Waiting for inspiration
Is rather like waiting for a bus.
You stand under the shelter
(Which has a big crack in the glass
And almost no roof)
And it starts to pour.
The wind is howling at you.
Millions of cars flash by.
You wait for forty minutes.
Five buses show up.
You wave your hands frantically for them to slow down.
You think quickly:
“Which one will take me to Cambridge?”
The buses start to leave.
You jump on one in a hurry
And settle down.
The air pump is broken.
There are loads of loud, rude people
Who leave their gum on the sides of seats.
The bus takes you to Majorca.
Magic is one of the coolest and most alarming elements in fantasy literature. It’s one that many people get hung up on. They can’t get past it. They think it is linked to the occult. They think books containing it are going to corrupt their children.
And yet magic in books and magic in real life are two very different things. For a start, the name “magic” is a confusing term. It indicates what some refer to as the occult today; but in literature, it really symbolises a unique resource or skill.
The nature of magic in literature – and whether it is invoked or not – also says a great deal; and in many cases, serves to differentiate magic in books from magic in our world.
For those who find the topic alarming or confusing, a link below will – hopefully – illuminate the topic somewhat.
In the words of J K Rowling: “Lumos!”
Do you know what coconut oil looks like
When it is melted?
It becomes a slick, pearly mass
Floating in a yellow ocean
Of liquid glazed like
The fat from a sea cow.
It smells over-hot …
The grease is smooth and slippery.
Give me a hot summer day.
Give me a terrible sleep
And no coffee,
And my brain is melted coconut oil.
The only sensible impression
Is a gleaming nucleus
In the middle of a swimming puddle
Of thoughts all a muddle,
Waiting for the glare and heat
So that all things may solidify
And make sense again.