I met David for the first time at ChattaCon in Tennessee in January 2007, but it wasn’t until RavenCon (Richmond, VA) in April that year that I really had a chance to sit down and get to know him. At once it was as if I had run into a best friend from a previous life, and we had a lot of catching up to do. A year later, he introduced me to Faith and Misty (and their husbands (and his wife)) over dinner, and it was as comfortable and easy a gathering as I had been a part of in a long time. Stuart I’ve known casually since 2006, and A.J. I met for the first time last year.
All of that, of course, is prologue. But as Stuart mentioned in his post earlier this week, the best fruits of networking develop over a very, very long time.
Fast forward to ConCarolinas, the weekend of June 4 – 6, 2010. The convention was, as always, wonderful. The magic, however, was out in the parking lot – specifically in an RV. I can’t tell you much about the RV, not what color it is, or even what state it’s from. Not because I don’t want to, but because I literally can’t; every time we went out to the RV it was late at night, and every time we left it was well after midnight. All I knew for sure was to aim for the big hulking thing in the back corner of the parking lot.
When we went out there the first time, all I was thinking all was, Wow, this is great, getting to hang out with these people. I like them, I respect them, they put up with my weird sense of humor and my even weirder sense of ‘fashion.’ This is great.
That was Friday night. We hung out for hours and laughed and drank and told stories. War stories, personal stories, you name it. We quoted extensively from movies like The Princess Bride and Young Frankenstein. A Dr. Horrible mini-sing-along broke out. We debated the merits of Monty Python vs. Bennie Hill. (For the record, it’s Monty Python, all the way.)
In other words, it was a perfect night.
Saturday night we got back together and we all went out to eat (a Chinese buffet – apparently belonging to Magical Words involves eating a LOT of Chinese food), and as the meal was wrapping up, one of the crew announced that after dinner there would be a Magical Words business meeting in the RV. Immediately the words popped out of my mouth – “Hey, would you mind if I tag along? Fly on the wall and all that?” I was having a great time and didn’t want the fun to end. I will also freely admit that it occurred to me that a business meeting involving so many people who I like and respect, and who had already accomplished so much, would be an invaluable educational experience. So when someone at our table said the word ‘Yes’ – I’m not even sure they were responding to my question – I immediately volunteered to drive some of the crew from the restaurant back to the RV. I figured it would be harder for them to get rid of me that way, in the event they came to their senses and realized their mistake.
If anything, the second night out in the RV was even more perfect than the first. I’m not going to be redundant and repeat what Faith said about chemistry. Suffice it say that she hit the nail on the head though. If you missed it, you really ought to go back and read her post from this past Tuesday. (If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll pause here while you go do that.)
At some point during Saturday’s business meeting, I went from being a fly on the wall to being an active participant in the conversation – sitting quietly on the sidelines has never been my strong suit – and I said these fateful words (or something close to it): “You know, you’ve already written all this great material about the process of writing, and you have all sorts of connections in the publishing industry. You ought to pull together a ‘Best-of’ collection of essays from the blog and have it published as a book. You could call it How To Write Magical Words.”
Almost instantly, David replied, “Yeah, we already talked about that possibility. About a month ago.”
I was in the process of feeling stupid for voicing such an obvious thought as if it were new and original, when Faith followed David by saying, “The problem is, we would need an editor.”
Cue the pregnant pause.
I‘m still not sure if that moment was the perfect storm of circumstances and people, or if I had been somehow set up to follow them down that path, but either way, I knew I would be thrilled to work on any project with this group. Thrilled beyond words. The pieces were fitted together in a flurry of motion and emotion, excitement growing by the minute. Essays from the blog. Responses and dialogue from the comments section. Include essays by Catie Murphy, since she was a regular for such a long time. (Letters are out to Catie even as I write this.) Regular updates posted on Magical Words by the editor (excuse me – by the ‘Ed-itor’) about the progress of the book as it was developing. Input form the blog’s readers as to what they would most like to see in the book.
It may not all come together exactly the way I’ve just described it, but those were the kinds of ideas being bandied about. It started out as a flurry of brainstorming, and quickly reached hurricane-level gusts. It was amazing. If we could have bottle the energy in the room at the time, we could have lit the city of Charlotte, NC for a year.
Thus was born How To Write Magical Words: A Beginning Writers Companion.
That’s the working title anyway. As with the rest of the book, it is this groups’ greatest desire that the book be shaped with input from the readers. If you think you’ve got a better title, we want to hear about it. If you have thoughts on how the book should be organized, or favorite essays you just have to see in the book, or whatever, we want to hear about. And I’ll be back here every Saturday, walking you the process of putting this book together, and gathering your input. We’ll never be able to use it all, but we do want to hear it all. We want to put something together that will be of great value to beginning and emerging writers everywhere.
It’s also going to be a lot of fun.
But then, it appears that everything these people do always is. And I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.
You want to hear the really good news? This is only the beginning, only the first book we have planned. There will be more books filled with Magical Words, books far out of the How-To genre and into the magic of fiction. Oh, yes.
But that’s a story for another day.
Edmund R. Schubert is the author of about 35 short stories, one novel (Dreaming Creek, Lachesis Books 2008), and an assortment of articles and interviews. He has served as editor of the online SF and fantasy magazine Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show since 2006, edited an anthology by the same name (IGMS, Tor 2008), and several business magazines. However, he considers his greatest accomplishment to be the time a college professor taught a class about him – in abnormal psychology.