Real magic, I know, does not exist. I have never believed in the supernatural, in ghosts or witches, sorcery or wizardry, black magic or otherworldly healing powers. For me, these types of enchantments do not exist; however, I believe us to be surrounded by a magic completely different, yet just as powerful.
Just as witches can presumably cast spells and change the world with a few chosen charms, so can a writer spin a new tale and alter a whole story with a few chosen words. There is power in a writer’s pen, a power that rises not only from a sharp mind and a limitless imagination, but from the magical ability to not only use words but own them.
Authors can create new worlds, unrealistic worlds filled with vampires and werewolves and genetically modified people and the walking dead, but also realistic worlds, worlds that reflect our cities and our people and our wars and our conflicts, though perhaps not in our lifetime.
They are able to raise people out of the ashes, give birth to new characters, give them names, give them life. Their personalities are developed, over sentences and passages, through the inflections in a character’s words, through the expressions in their eyes.
Spinning characters out of thin air, writers make them loved, despised, admired, envied. They create a new world that is not ours, but somehow forces us, the readers, to accept it all the same, to feel as if we are one of the people living there, as if their happiness is our happiness, as if their conflicts are our conflicts, as if their grief is our grief.
They pull you in by tugging at your heartstrings, by evoking emotions deep within. The author may be the puppeteer – the mastermind behind the whole story – but it is the wonderful ability of an author to force us to embrace this new world and its new people as our own that allows us to escape the reality of our planet and delve, without any hesitation, deep into the heart of another.
With just a few delightfully descriptive words, the writer gives rise through the eyes of our mind to beautiful plush fields, endless skies atop a dense, dark forest, or cities that were once alluring but are now crumbling and menacing under the weight of time and war and decay and pain.
We continue the journey, having unconsciously put ourselves in the shoes of the characters, behind the expressions on their faces, alongside the people we have come to love, as they face hardships, tough decisions, sacrifice, and the losses and blessings that come with time.
The greatest power of writers? They make us into a character. We seem to take on the protagonist as ourselves. We can feel our hearts pounding against our chests alongside the protagonist’s, threatening to burst from within, and our breaths becoming shallower, fighting to escape our constricted throats, as we together continue our journey into danger or suspense or foolishness or selflessness.
As we near the end, we feel the triumph to be felt by the defeat of the villain, or the relief to be felt by the survival of the ones we had come to love, or the engulfing grief to be felt by the death of one we had come to possess as our own selves, our own images.
And somehow, even after the story has finished and the words have stopped, the journey has not ended and the power has not diminished. The words and the tale they tell still thrive within the depths of our heart, and the feelings of relief or joy or pain or sadness still ooze out of our pores as we think on what happened and what could have and should have happened. The story may end, but the world continues to live on.
Words, filling pages upon pages upon pages, merely letters on previously plain white sheets, are thrown together in so formidable a way as to create new identities, new personalities, new heroes, new villains – a whole new life. They create for us an escape, an escape from reality into a place that we can easily accept as our own, where we can meet new people, gain new experiences, fight new battles, and survive new days.
There is a certain element of magic to it all, don’t you think?