Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 9, 2015

Slipping in Some Magic

Shoveling snow, shuffling sentences. I’m nearing the end of my novel’s first draft, full of sprawling snowdrifts of words. I’m tossing extra shovelfuls onto the banks, stray ideas to make everything more complicated before I look for a clear path through. Or at least a path. My way to the door isn’t exactly straight or smooth, and I’ll also be letting my pen shift as I find a way among the too many heaps of themes and conversations. In early drafts, I want diversions and too many possibilities. I’m not yet able to assess which ones will work best, and I’m still eager to be led astray.


Some of what’s underneath my snow banks will come to light, but I want to keep some of the dark mysteries, and what’s new for me, some magic. I grew up with a brother and sister who both loved fat books with dragons and spells like Lord of the Rings, but I stayed loyal to little houses and prairies, firmly keeping to realism. I married someone who loves fantasy, too, and I try to include such books in my curriculum. But when left to my own devices, I’ve pretty much stuck to the ordinary world.

But more and more I’ve wanted to put a bit of magic in a novel. I’ve attempted this before, and failed, but until now I don’t think I found the sort of magic I can believe in. For me, that’s connected to old and small things, often found or broken, which were sometimes what I played with as a child, vehicles for my games of pretend, which happened in the woods by our house or under a tree or porch. I’m working with the way that history seems to sweep me to another place. I’ve got an attic in a house that is some kind of haunted and woods that glimmer with some enchantment. How very different is a ghost from a person, after all? Setting forth the magic and listening to its possibilites, as I listen to characters, it took on a course of its own.

So here I am, creating places with odd histories and a twelve-year-old character who believes that anything can happen. Just the way writers do anytime we pick up our pens.





  1. That’s awesome, Jeannine. To me, a story that comes alive is one where things creep in that I didn’t always foresee. Whether it’s a realistic story or not, those kinds of things are a bit of magic in the writing process.

    • Absolutely! Thanks for putting it so well. Why did it take me so long to see this?

  2. How wonderful that you’re coming toward the end of your first draft! I love to follow your journey through the drifts and curvy paths. But I had to smile when you said that you’ve failed when you attempted to put a bit of magic in your stories. I know what you’re talking about, but oh my goodness, Jeannine, your writing is full of magic! 🙂 xoxo

    • Lorraine, what a beautiful thing to say. Thank you, and hugs.

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