Nearly six years ago, on January 24, 2008, Misty posted the very first essay to the Magical Words blogsite. It was called “Where’d Everybody Go?” and it was a response to a show she had seen the night before on the History Channel about what Earth might be like if all human life vanished from the planet. The following day, I put up my first post — “Doing as I Say” — which was about writing short fiction to help flesh out elements of worldbuilding or character development for larger projects.
Faith’s first post followed mine, and Catie’s first came after Faith’s. By the end of that first week of Magical Words, we had all posted something; the site was up and running, and to be honest, we were all pretty excited about it. We didn’t know where the site would take us, but we knew it was something we wanted to try. If it drew an audience, great. If not . . . well, at least we gave it a shot.
Six years later, we’re still going strong, with a roster of fellow writers that would make any writing site jealous, and a list of past contributors, guests, and part-time bloggers that reads like a who’s-who of writing in our genre. We’ve come a long way.
But what I find most interesting as I go back and read those first posts from 2008 is not so much the content of the essays — the fact is, we all had in mind exactly what we wanted the site to be. The post I wrote for January 25, 2008 could easily have been a post a year later, or two or six. No, what’s remarkable to me is the comments section. All of those first posts prompted conversations among ourselves. Faith, Misty, Catie, and I were talking to each other, but no one else was listening. At least not that we could see.
But only a week later — on January 31 — Misty posted something about reading online reviews of her books, and lo and behold, she got comments from people not connected with the site, people I, for one, didn’t even know. To my mind, that was when Magical Words came to life. We can post about writing all we like, but if our readers aren’t learning from the posts, asking us questions, even challenging some of our conclusions, then the site is nothing more than writers talking to each other. We created the site to reach out to aspiring writers, to give something back to the writing world. Not until you reached back to us, did we know that we had succeeded.
Over the next few days, beginning with this post, Faith, Misty, and I will be reflecting on the past, present, and future of Magical Words. Because as much as we love the site and take pride in what it is today, we are looking forward to making it into something bigger, better, and more exciting than what it has been thus far. Faith will have more to say about this on Wednesday, and tomorrow Misty will give you a sense of just how far the Magical Words community reaches right now.
I’m the resident historian, and so I get to talk about our past, about where the site came from. Most of you actually know the story already. Faith and I met at a party on the last day of the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop Conference in 2007, and fell instantly, effortlessly into the kind of friendship that usually takes years to develop. It was at once weird and wonderful. But what was even stranger was that upon meeting Misty (or actually re-meeting Misty — she and I met briefly at the SCWW conference in 2002) the same thing happened. To this day I have not met Catie Murphy in person, but we have an online friendship that is ridiculously close.
And that, it seems to me, is what has made the site work for those of us who post material day in and day out. I love these people — all of them: Hartness and Hartley, Schubert and Stuart, Mindy and Misty, Faith and Catie, Carrie and Kalayna, Lucienne and James, Lynn and Di. In today’s online world, the words “family” and “community” are thrown around with too little care — they are cheapened by overuse. But this place is my writing community, and these people are my professional family.
The cool thing is, as we meet more and more of you — our readers — we feel the same way. The MW family includes all who visit the site, whether they comment regularly or merely lurk. It includes those who come to ConCarolinas and crowd around the peanut shell-covered tables at Boardwalk Billy’s. And, of course, it includes the folks who critique each others’ work in the MW writers’ group.
We have worked hard to make MW what it is, but it has been a labor of love — another cliche that is both overused and completely appropriate to the occasion. And we’re not done working. This post is not meant as an elegy. Far from it. We’re not stopping or even slowing down. But this seems a good time for us to pause and look back and say to all of you, “Thanks for what we have done together thus far. We truly could not have come this far without you. Now, join us as we take stock of where we are, and peer into the future to see where we’re headed next.”David B. Coe http://www.DavidBCoe.com http://www.dbjackson-author.com