I got a new handbag for Christmas, so a few days after the holiday, I sat down to clean out my old bag and switch over to the new one. I moved the wallet, the phone, the iPod and the notebook. I dug out all the pens that still worked, slipped them into the little pockets designed just for pens. Pretty soon I was down to the bits of fluff that everyone accumulates over time – cough drop wrappers, cracker crumbs, stray earring backs, pennies I never put into a change purse, and so on. I turned the bag over and dumped it all out on the table, just to be sure there was nothing important lost in the fluff before I threw it all away…and suddenly I had an idea for a story. The detritus ceased to be garbage, and became something special.
Sometimes magic is lurking in the oddest of places. We’re all used to magic wands and crystal balls, tarot cards and cauldrons, but what if you could find magic in a comb? Or a pencil? Even a torn envelope? Fantasy went through a fairly long time after Tolkien in which the desired magic item was something beautiful and unmistakable, hidden in a box or cave or tomb so obvious it really wasn’t much of a hiding place at all. These days readers are hoping for something different in their stories. And you have to admit, it’s exciting to discover magic in a seemingly ordinary object, something that could lie unused and ignored for years. It would be so much more difficult for a questing hero to find the McGuffin of Might if it’s a tarnished tie tack that hasn’t been taken out of the wizard’s jewel box in forty years. Or what if he had to dig through a land fill to find the Broom of Predestination?
Just for fun, let’s create some magic objects out of the junk laying around the house. Take a look in your junk drawer, or in the back of the pantry shelf or under the fridge. What did you find? What can it do? And how do you make it work? Let’s have a little fun!