I have a set of 3 books on short story writing that I turn to whenever I’m stuck on a story, or feel that I’m in the midst of some writing discovery. I picked them up today after having lent them to a friend, and found myself comforted by their mere presence. I decided to skim through one of them over my lunch break, and selected one of the final chapters in the book about revising. I feel like I’ve come a long way this year through practice and crit (rinse repeat repeat repeat) that I wanted to see if I could find something new to grasp onto.
Three pages in, the magic hit. It felt like a ton of bricks hitting me; there was this little gasp, and a feeling of elation and I felt like a kid as I scrambled for a bookmark and a pen. Quite the OMG moment… and the magic, my friends, is that the chapter I was reading (revision) had nothing to do with the revelation that hit me.
The revelation concerns a short story I outlined and started drafting back in May. Despite the outline, I couldn’t write it. I knew something was wrong with it, but not what. In that instant, the ending of the story came to life, answering both what was wrong and how to fix it, or rather, how to write it to begin with.
This magic book, my security blanket, has been in my possession for maybe twelve or thirteen years. It was one of the first books on writing I ever purchased. I didn’t even know who Damon Knight was at the time. (I’d probably have been more excited at the time and read it more carefully; truth is, I figured if someone put out a book about writing and got it published, they probably knew what they were writing about).
I’m not going to analyze the magic, except to say this particular book puts me in my happy place, my comfortable place, in regards to learning about writing. As much as I’ve learned, there’s more. I can feel it.
Anyway, I have a story to draft. While I’m off doing that, why not comment on your own writing “magic” or “security blanket”? I’m curious if I’m insane, or my book really is magic.