Making Magic

I’ve been thinking, lately, about how many stories — often portal fantasies, sometimes urban fantasies — talk about how there is no magic in our world. Or how the magic has been leaving our world, often due to the growth of technology, like the fae vanishing due to the presence of iron, as if in the pursuit of scientific discovery we sacrifice magic.

The idea that I might live in a world without magic, or with dying magic, made me sad. Because of course I’ve always wanted to live in a world with magic. Sure, magic can be terrifying and devastating and maddening, but it’s magic, and it is exciting and wonderful and inspiring. It can break or it can build or it can fail to serve any useful purpose at all, but its existence — I have always wanted magic.

I wanted to be a sorcerer, wielding magic with my hands, shooting out beams of sheer power to shake the world, to defeat my enemies, to change people’s minds and heal their hearts.

And I thought of the role of the scop, once upon a time, or the bard or minstrel in different ages and cultures. Storytellers who were revered not just as sources of knowledge and wisdom, but for how they shaped the tales and the words within them, for how they delivered them, and how those tales shape us.

And I thought about how, once upon a time, writing was a rare and mysterious skill. The ability to read runes, to take symbols from a rock or sheet and make them into messages, to make sense out of nothing, was a kind of magic.

And I realized, shockingly belatedly, that this is why I write: because storytelling is magic.

The act of writing is an act of creation, my pen is my wand. And without my wand, how can I take magic from intangible idea into a physical reality? No wonder I have always thought my fingers understood story better than my brain.

Writing is an art, but it is also a craft. What it feels like to have magic can’t be taught, but how to wield it must be learned. Because we all know what happens when the arcane summoner misses a critical symbol in their circle: they will fail to contain the demon. The sorcerers that never learn their power will cause critical damage to the world, to the people close to them, or to themselves.

Like magicians, we learn to use smoke and mirrors to shape and direct our stories. I may not be an adept magic user yet, but I am devoting my time to training, and it consumes my life in a way I recognize from archetypes of mad alchemists fascinated not just by the magic itself, but by how it works, by the possibilities. That it takes time, but that I can love the work even when the exterior results are frustrating or incomprehensible to people who are not mad alchemists.

Writers are the sorcerers: words are the vessels for our magic, stories our spells. And if our magic and spellcraft are strong, they act upon the world. They seep into the hearts and minds around us, and they open new worlds. And every story is another act of magic, and every time we cast them into the world we fill the world with a little more magic, and we draw more people into the circle. We inspire more people to make magic in their worlds, in our world.

Magic was once rare. But little by little, we bring it out of everyone. The quantity of magic may vary from person to person, as well as their skill to use it, but the magic is here. It’s everywhere, for those who seek to find.

My world is full of magic, and I am a sorcerer.

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3 responses to “Making Magic

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