Monday, December 03, 2007

A little bit of magic

Posted by Lisa

Last week I posted an interview with Gregory Maguire I conducted in the spring of last year. Gregory is hyper-intelligent and delightful; a very inspiring writer to learn from. He recommended a novel: The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton, another Massachusetts native. It’s the story of two impoverished children who travel at night to a dreamland that is very real.

How many of us, I wonder, have a book that touched some corner of our souls in a way that made writing a possibility for vocation.

Mine was Ginny’s Babysitting Business. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know the author and an internet search gave me zero results. Another was Night of the Red Horse (terrifying magical realism I long to emulate) by Patricia Leitch.

At my son’s hockey game yesterday, I let my imagination wander. I came up with questions about his coaches, their families, the circumstances that led them to live in California; each of them is from far away. Not knowing the answers to many of these questions, I came up with my own answers. I can’t say I’ve ever done this before: look at people and make up their lives for them. It was engrossing; when my son later asked me if I saw his shot hit the post of the net, I had to say “Sorry, I missed it.”

It led me, last night, this morning, to think about the authors who wrote favorite books we have read and loved. Where were they when they thought of their stories. What were their circumstances as they banged on their typewriters or wrote long hand in that days before our blessed word processing programs. They were people, like you and me, creating stories, as you and I do.

Maybe writing is magic, thinking of stories, developing them fully in our minds. Maybe it’s magic that inspires us to persevere through the hundreds of hours, the revisions, the moments when we realize a plot point clearly isn’t working.

The holidays are coming, a time of magic. Find a piece of magic hidden inside you. Close your eyes and think of that book you loved as a child. The novel that told you writing is a cool thing!


olufunke grace bankole: said...

what a thoughtful and inspiring post! i'm so glad i came here this morning. i do think there's a bit--no, a lot--of magic to the whole creative process. and thinking about the paths taken by the writers i admire, i want to continue on my own. wishing you and the writers' group continued magic as you move forward.

Lisa Marnell said...

iyan and egusi soup,

Thanks for stopping by and we wish you magic as well!

Larramie said...

Better yet, carry that magic within you throughout the New Year!

Lisa Marnell said...

Thanks Larramie! What a thoughtful wish to blog writers and readers.

Anonymous said...

The book I was addicted to in elementary school was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase--as I recall, your typical rich kid/poor kid, mean governess, no adult supervision. But best of all, hidden passages in the mansion and a kid who lived in a cave kind of book. By Joan Aiken (had to Amazon that, didn't recall).

That and, of course, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. My Side of the Mountain by Jean George (did remember that). I loved the idea of living inside a tree!

They didn't make me think I could be a writer, but they sure made me love reading.

Lisa Marnell said...

Kira, I haven't read the Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Perhaps I should of love those types of books.

It amazes me how so many children's books invlove children living a type of alternate reality. (I'm struggling to achieve that with my YA WIP - easier said than done).

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Such a moment of surprise to read your post.

Diamond in the Window was my favorite--I mean, life-changingly number one favorite--book when I was what, 13? It made me love words. It made me love reading. It reassured me that being a geeky kid was okay. That it was acceptable to be bookish. That families could stick together. That there was magic in the world.

I have purchased it for countless children, and continue to do so.

Now. Talk about magic. A few weeks ago, I was at an event where authors were signing their books.

I was signing.
Jane Langton was signing.

I thought I would never feel so happy. And that the world had never felt so hilariously complete. I would not, really not, have been there without her guidance more than 40 years before.

I was trying to be cool. I told her how much her book had meant to me, but of course there was no way to truly describe it without turning into a wacked-out goofy fan.

And I fear I instructed my husband to take WAY too many photos of us togther.

Egdelwonk. Egdelwonk. I've said it to myself for as long as I can remember.

Thank you Jane, thank you.

Lisa Marnell said...

Wow Hank!

That event where you were signing with Jane Langton sounds surreal. Congrats!

And, not a bad thing to share the same favorite book with Gregory Maguire. Cool.