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Guest Post: Magic and Method of Becoming a Writer

Man writing with a penWhen I first read of Magic Oxygen’s Literary Prize competition, it presented something of a dilemma for me.

I’ve always written old-fashioned tales of the supernatural – ghost stories, chiefly – in a determinedly fey and poetical style. How to adjust, to write something at once more modern but also worthy of the publishing company’s excellent work in general and its progressive ethos?

A hard task, it appeared. The problem, though, swiftly became a pleasure.

In effect the writing of my first short story, in the competitive sphere at least, gave me a welcome and vital ‘holiday from myself.’ It truly made for a refreshing change, its challenges even brought new insights on my novel-writing and plotting to the fore; all in all, I found inspiration for potential stories, long and short, along with a new impetus and passion for the craft itself.

So often – and one often hesitates to confess this publicly – writing can seem a chore as much as something beautiful, something which is the very essence of self-expression. Perhaps equally importantly, that blessing of self-expression can be shared with readers and like-minded people, which is a wonderful bonus indeed.

However, for every thrilling episode of inspired creation, there are moments when writing merely feels like work. Deadlines and numerous other pressures, both external and self-made, allow the humdrum irritations of modern living to disturb the sheer fantasy of what we imagine and bring to life through words (and it is all fantasy, whether one writes fictional or factual material – literary composition is magical, in a very pure sense).

These writing-as-work moments really can be beaten and every writer has their own way of keeping the vampire from their door. For me, learning about the contest and then fashioning a suitable short story was the ‘happy accident’ that gifted me a working method, one which will inform and energise my future literary endeavours.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage my fellow writers to participate in the next Magic Oxygen competition. If you happen to be more advanced than me in terms of your career and craft, or if you have the hard-earned gift of adaptability when it comes to writing in differing styles, genres and ‘voices’, then at the very least these contests offer a chance for you to claim further success and the crucial self-confidence that attends it.

If, however, like me you’re new to this fascinating game, you might begin to learn new skills and, indeed, reveal hidden aspects of your writing personality. Eventually, I believe those new-found abilities will complement your episodes of inspiration in an increasingly seamless manner, until you find yourself leaving your hobbyist status behind and truly becoming a writer.

Steve Callaghan

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Enormous thanks to Steve for that post! If you’d like to contribute a literary flavoured piece to our blog, please drop us a line.


The Team