Today marks the three-year anniversary of the very first Magical Words post, and I wanted to use today’s post to mark the occasion. You’ve heard the story of MW’s founding before, so I won’t bore you with that again. Nor do I plan to use this space to plug the amazing new MW book, How to Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion (Bella Rosa Books, $18), which is garnering rave reviews and slowly but surely making its way up the sales charts. Oh, look! Guess I plugged it after all…. I will mention that over the course of three years we’ve gone from being a tiny little site with basically no followers at all, to ranking in the top 2% of all sites in terms of traffic, and being recognized as one of the leading writing sites on the web.
But even that is somewhat beside the point. I’d like to tell you all what MW means to me. Those of you who comment on this site often thank us for offering advice or helping you with a writing issue. I have to be honest with you: this isn’t an act of altruism. I get a tremendous amount out of this site. And I guarantee you that I’m not the only one of us who does.
If you go back to that first post (it’s in the archives), you’ll see that it was written by Misty. Appropriately so. Misty and her wonderful husband, Todd, keep us up and running. And Misty’s posts, her eloquent celebrations of this crazy, frustrating business, constantly remind me of why I write. Her love of the written word is evident in every post, just as it is in her excellent first novel. I can’t wait to see the book she’s working on now. From those early days, you’ll also find posts by the incredibly talented and prolific Catie Murphy, whose uncompromising professionalism taught and inspired me week in and week out, and whose books, particularly the volumes of the Inheritors’ Cycle, take my breath away. Catie is on hiatus from MW right now, but we look forward to her eventual return to the site.
In the interim we have added the publishing industry’s answer to The Three Amigos. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on a story with Stuart for the past few weeks (and it truly has been a pleasure), and have been not-at-all surprised to find that he has a terrific feel for narrative and pacing and a marvelous economy to his writing style. Writing short fiction is an art unto itself, and Stuart has mastered it, as his posts on short-form writing demonstrate. I am struck again and again, by A.J.’s ability to blend scholarly insight with artistic vision. His posts manage to be simultaneously erudite and passionate, instructive and exhilarating. His early thrillers, absolutely live up to the term, and the Will Hawthorne books have, perhaps, the most entertaining and distinctive narrative voice I’ve ever encountered. I wish I had his mind; I’d kill for his accent… I’ve also had the privilege of working with Edmund on a number of projects — a story, an essay, a novel, the MW How-to (How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion — Bella Rosa Books, $18. Buy it now!). Talk about vision. I’m awed by his ability is tease out the best in the work he reads, to sure up the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths. There is a reason why he is fast becoming one of the most respected editors in speculative fiction.
And then, of course, there is Faith, the heart and soul of Magical Words. Her writing skill, her business savvy, her uncanny knack for reducing complex writing concepts to their basics; her posts are an education for every one of us, her books are compelling, rich, sensual, thrilling. What a joy for all of us to see her finally enjoying the success that she deserves. The friendship I share with her has quite literally changed my life.
We have other stars here at MW — Carrie Ryan, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lucienne Diver, Mindy Klasky, Lynn Flewelling. Reading the names, I can’t help but be blown away by the collection of talent we’ve been lucky enough to draw to the site.
We also have all of you — our devoted readers. It may sound like pandering, but I swear it’s not. MW is nothing without your comments, your contributions to our conversations about writing. Without you, we’re just a bunch of writers talking about writing. Add in a bar, and you’ve got any old convention. You make us a community.
Which really is the point of all this. I started by saying that this post would be about what MW means to me. And that’s it. I live in a small, isolated town. I’m the only professional writer of speculative fiction in at least a fifty mile radius. I get to conventions and conferences a few times a year and have those weekends to hang out with my friends. But most of the year, I write in a vacuum. For the longest time I had no writing community at all. Then, three years ago, we started this site, and suddenly I had one. I come here every day to comment on one post or another, and it’s like stepping into a room filled with friends. Some of you I’ve met; many of you I haven’t. But I feel that I know every one of you. I know. Corny. But I swear it’s true.
Magical Words energizes me, it makes me think, it constantly shifts my perspective on the craft and the business of writing, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. It challenges me; it makes me feel that if I am going to continue to be a part of this group, my writing has to rise to the standards established by the others who post here. It also makes me feel that I have a place where I belong, where the fact that I have characters living in my head, that I spend nearly all my waking hours thinking of plot lines and magic systems, that I slave away at a career I love despite the poor hours, dismal pay, and utter lack of security, doesn’t make me a freak.
So, my thanks to all of you. And Happy Anniversary! After all, this is your site, too.David B. Coe