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You are the Magic

Photo [1] by Didgeman, CCO [2] License

Something happened when I sat down earlier this weekend to put finishing touches on what was supposed to become this post. Suddenly a topic to which I’d been so committed just days earlier no longer spoke to me. It was overshadowed, I imagine, by a week of violent acts driven by the darkest human instincts. My first reaction, which I’ve come to know all too well, was one of paralysis coupled with a sense of disorientation. However, surprisingly, this time that mood soon passed. Rather than yield even an inch more ground to the negative, I found myself brimming with defiant optimism, not only for my writing but also for the creations of my tribe, meaning all of you, a band of storytellers spanning the globe. And so what I have to offer today is a fan letter, a pep talk for a troubled time.

My message is this – You are the magic for which the world hungers.

You possess all the tools, right at this moment, to accomplish what you were born to do. As author Neil Gaiman once wrote, “The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and play and dance and live as only you can.” No one else will put in the time, do the research, plumb the emotions, flesh out the characters, and set the tone for the seed of a story that the forces in your life have planted. Only you can bring that seed to full bloom. Moreover, it is your duty to do so – not just for your readers, but for yourself.

“Why?” you may ask.

Because the world needs your voice! Stories send ripples across continents and through cultures. Stories shape minds. And most importantly, particularly in times like these, stories change hearts. Your writings contribute to a tapestry that captures what it means to be human, at our best and at our very worst. It doesn’t matter if you write comedies or mysteries or dramas set in our own world, past or present, or ones set in alien galaxies a billion light years away. It doesn’t matter if your tales are as vast as a global war or as small as a single household. Your protagonist may be an aging matriarch or an orphaned youth. They may be timid, kind, brave or cruel (and maybe all of those and more). What matters is your devotion to getting it right, to conveying what is real in your world, aligning with your unique perspective. For when writing hits upon truth, eyes are opened. Maybe millions will eventually see your story. But even if it only reaches a dozen, you will have built a bridge where a wall once stood.

So do your duty.

Turn off the internet. You can fact check later, and I promise the cat videos will be there when you return. Stay informed, but also shut off the news for a while each day. Dive deep into your story. Embrace your magic and cast your spell. Because your audience is waiting, and they are starving for a new vision.

I must admit I need this advice as much as any of you. And while I want to send you on your way immediately, if it helps to shout out the reasons your current story matters, please sound off below. I, and others of our clan, would love a glimpse into your brilliant story mind.

About John J Kelley [3]

John J Kelley [4] crafts tales of individuals at a crossroads, exploring themes of growth, reconciliation and community. His debut novel, The Fallen Snow [5], about a young soldier’s homecoming at the close of WWI, received a Publishers Weekly starred review and earned an Honorable Mention nod at the 2012 Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Awards. Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, John graduated from Virginia Tech and for a time served as a military officer. Today he lives with his partner in Washington, DC.