Taking a Moment to Look Back and Say Thanks


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

26 comments to Taking a Moment to Look Back and Say Thanks

  • Lovely post, as always, David! I look forward to learning more about the upcoming changes!

  • Thanks, Mindy. Looking forward to continuing this adventure with you.

  • What David said. Everything David said, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. We totally love you guys and we want 2014 to take us all to bigger and better things: publication for us all, and cool stuff for the future.

  • sagablessed

    For myself (and I think none will be offended by this) and on behalf of we who have learned so much from this site:

    “Thank you all!”

    I personally have developed as a writer and human being just by being here. As to changes: well, that which does not change stagnates and dies. So keep MW alive.

  • Ken

    What David said. Both of them. I’ve met some of you in person and some of you I’ve only seen here on this site and on the Beta’s site and you are all some of my closest friends. I’ve learned so much from everyone here that, like Saga said, I’m not only a better writer from being here and talking with you all. I’m a better person for it as well.

    Really looking ahead to 2014.

  • […] Today’s post at the Magical Words blogsite looks back on the history of the site, as Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and I prepare to initiate some changes to the site going forward.  For those of you who have ever visited the site or commented on one or more of our posts, or even been curious about Magical Words, I hope you will stop by, learn a bit about where the site came from and join us as we step into our shiny new future.  Today’s post can be found here. […]

  • Faith, thank you.

    Donald, we are so glad to have you as part of the MW family. Thanks for the kind words.

    Ken, same to you. Thank you for your contributions to the site. Glad you’re here.

  • Thank all of you who post and comment here. This is one of the few sites I read everyday, and is the only one where I comment regularly. This truly is a community, one that makes newcomers feel welcome, treats everyone with a respect, and maintains a sense of fun along with all the helpful advice. I’m looking forward to many more years hers!

  • All that and more. Being part of the MW family has meant the world to me over the past few years, both professionally and personally. I loves you guys!

  • As someone who started her writing career on GEnie and then Compuserve, and who has spent all the years since their demise looking for a new writer home, I can say that the welcome mat and candle in the window here make me feel as if I’ve finally found it. Thank you for that! I hope the future includes many more years, many more words, and much more fun!

  • NewGuyDave

    De-lurking to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the posts, which I’ve been reading in email for a few months now (about since seeing David again at When Words Collide). Magical Words has been a part of my writing life for a few years now and I don’t know where I’d be without the advice, support, friends, and encouragement.

    PS. It great when you sign your posts in text as above for the email versions because I don’t have pictures come through on my phone to save data. If you don’t put your name down, I don’t know who wrote the post without accepting pictures or visiting the site. Cheers,

  • I’m all sentimental now! <3

  • Thanks so much, SiSi, for this comment, and for your devotion to the site.

    John, we are privileged to have you here on MW, and to call you our friend.

    Lyn, I was once on Compuserve, too. This site filled a hole that its disappearance created, so I know exactly what you mean. Glad you’re here.

    Dave, it was great to see you in Calgary, and it’s been wonderful having you as part of our community.

    Catie, we miss you!!

  • Looking forward to what the MW crew has in store for the future!

  • Yes, this is probably the coolest and most useful writing site around with some of the most awesome people I’ve ever met (and I still haven’t met some of you in person–a technicality I will have to remedy). You all go out of your way to give advice and even mentor budding writers and that’s something special in the market. *raises glass…well…metal stein* Here’s to you and further good things to come. Sláinte! And if I’m not here to post tomorrow night for New Year’s Eve (I’ll be working from 11pm to the @$$ crack of dawn), here’s to you and yours, health, and prosperity in the coming year.

  • TwilightHero

    Thanks right back at you 🙂

    Alas, I’m among the lurkers now – don’t have much time to comment anymore. (That is to say, I don’t have much time I don’t already spend reading, reviewing, and writing. And relaxing.) But I still check out the site a few times a week. Looking back, I can see how much I’ve improved as a writer over the years – and a lot of that is attributable to you guys. So thanks to everyone here at Magical Words. You’re making a difference. I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

    And Happy New Year 2014! Where I live, it’s already New Year’s Eve 🙂

  • Thank you so much, David, to you and everyone here, for everything you’ve done. For creating this amazing place where we can interact and learn. I feel like it’s done wonders for my skills, my knowledge, and my ability to *do* this writing thing, even when I get discouraged. Everyone I’ve shared this site with has also found it useful, too. As I told one ConCarolinas organizer, you guys are the reason I come all the way from Vancouver every year. I really can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

  • Janet Walden-West

    Has it been a year since I crept out of the Writer’s Closet into the open?? Wow. Thanks guys- Mud, Laura, John, Faith…

  • Razziecat

    This…is my favorite site. Hands down. I’ve learned so much on this site, and it’s given me encouragement, hope, validation….all for nothing more than a small investment of time and participation. Every time I come here, I marvel that “real writers” put the time and energy and passion and creativity into talking to, and with, people like me: Ordinary people who are deeply in love with books and words, who dare to think that maybe we can do what you do: Publish, one way or another, and share all these dreams and stories that live in our heads. And one thing I learned is that anyone who shares that passion and creativity…IS a “real writer.” Wow! I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you, so much. 😀

  • David, thank you for the historical look back. Thank you for stating clearly that it is not the first movement in a requiem. Thanks to all of you who contribute your knowledge and experience and to all who comment here. I’m looking forward to a long future learning from the MW community.

  • Thanks, Christina.

    Daniel, that’s very kind of you to say. We’re so glad to have you as part of the family and are thrilled by your recent success. Keep it up!

    Twilight, we’re glad you’re still keeping up with the site, even if it’s just as a lurker. When life allows, you’ll comment again, I’m sure. In the meantime, enjoy!

    Laura, thank you! We LOVE that you make the trip to ConCarolinas each year. We love seeing you. Thanks for your comments and your commitment to the site.

  • Janet, the years do fly by. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for six years!

    Razz, thanks for the kind comment. We love doing it, in large part because of the wonderful people we have encountered while maintaining the site. Thanks for your presence here.

    Vyton, you’re welcome! Glad you’re with us.

  • Thank you David and all of the MW crew who make this site possible. I can’t think of a better site for new writers to come and learn some of the top names in the business. You guys and gals rock!

  • inkfire

    I’ve been reading Magical Words for a while but I wanted to de-lurk to say that last night I finished reading Thieve’s Quarry. It was so good. It took me away from the real world and the pain I had been feeling for the last few hours, which was just what I needed

  • Thank you so much, Inkfire. That’s incredibly kind of you to say. I’m sorry that you’ve been having a difficult time, but I appreciate your willingness to de-lurk for a moment and comment on the MW site. We hope you’ll join in other discussions going forward. Be well.