IWSG: magic revealed

Hello and welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, otherwise known as the official meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG is a super secret, crazy exclusive group of writers who band together to support each other. If you’d like to get to know the other members, read about their writing adventures, and perhaps sign up yourself, click here to discover everything you need to make that happen.

iwsg

Last week editor Vivian Caethe revealed the cover for the upcoming Unlocking the Magic anthology, designed by Owl Quest Creative. My short story,  The Night Janitor,  is included. Have a look:

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cover designed by Owl Quest Creative

It’s a beauty and a thrill. I’m excited to be a part of this project for many reasons. One, because the way mental illness is portrayed in fantasy is problematic and this anthology has set out to upend those tropes. Poor mental health doesn’t make someone magical, it makes them suffer. My protagonist suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks. He doesn’t get over these afflictions in the story, but he does discover magic still exists in his world and finds new ways to cope and manage his anxiety.

Secondly, there are some amazing writers here and… me. How did that happen? Thirdly, and related to two, is because A. Merc Rustad (now writing as Merc Fenn Wolfmoor) is one of my favorite living writers and we have stories in the same book! I hope I never get over that thrill.

I never expected to turn my experiences with anxiety into a story, especially my most successful story to date. It wasn’t easy to see it there on the page, or to climb inside my anxiety to write about it, but it felt magical to tug and pull the words down around my protagonist, surrounding him with wonder.

 

 

 

*the Kickstarter for the Unlocking the Magic anthology is complete and pre-orders are now closed. I hope to have a link to the usual bookshops in the future for anyone interested.

 

story’s end

“How do you know when a story is finished, mum?”

I take a deep breath. “That’s a loaded question, pumpkin. Every writer has a different way of knowing, and I can only tell you my way.”

She looks frustrated. “But how do you know?”

“I know a story is done when I can read it out loud without tripping over any lines or feeling self-conscious.”

She stares at me, a perplexed look on her face. I struggle to explain myself. “It might sound simple, but it takes a lot of work to get there. First I revise it a few times on paper, then I start reading it out loud, pen in hand to mark the spots that need work. Sometimes I’ve gotten my plot tangled in my first revisions, so I have to do undo all of that.”

She continues to stare, the furrow in her brow growing deeper.

I start to sweat. “Sometimes I’m so embarrassed I want to burn it, so I put it away for the rest of the day. By the next morning I’m ready to tackle the broken spots and sculpt my story into what I want it to be.”

I chuckle. “These days this involves pen, paper, and a clipboard resting on the baby’s bottom while she contentedly suckles. When I’m done I’ll feel happy and exhilarated.”

“Exhilarated?”

“That means happy and alive. When I wake up the next day, I might read it again and realize how much work is left. One day I’ll read it and everything will fall into place, a story that flows as smooth as the baby’s bottom it was edited on, and then, at last, I’ll know it is done. At least until my critique group tells me otherwise, but that’s another thing altogether.”

She shakes her head. “No, mum, I mean, how do you know when its finished?”

I stare, drawing a blank. “I don’t understand.”

She stamps her foot. “How do you know when to stop reading?”

“Oh.”

She waits.

“Well, it usually says ‘the end’.”

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writer at work, baby’s bottom not shown

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