Recently, I rewatched The Magicians. In one of the episodes, one of my favorite characters, Margo, mentioned something I’ve held with me for a long time. Magic comes from pain.
When I first watched the series years ago, I remembered the line got me through a lot. I think rewatching it was some sort of calling. As someone who was experiencing a rut–not a creative rut, a rut that comes from being buried under deadlines, imposter syndrome, and more–this line spoke to me once again.
Words are magic. In spell books, in tv shows, and in more, words are used as a conduit to cast spells. I think, in some way, that extends to writing. We are magicians because we put our blood, sweat, tears, hopes, fears, and souls into words. Be it ink, or graphite, or zeros and ones on a screen, these mediums are our wands, and the novels, short stories, poems, and essays we write are the byproduct of the magic we cast.
Which brings me back to that expression. If Magicians use magic, and it comes from pain, then the words and stories we write also come from it. This experience has been used and morphed throughout time. How writers have to mine their trauma. Or how your lived experiences make the best stories. The suffering artist trope. I can go on and on.
Pain is a tool in a writer’s arsenal. Just like point-of-view, exposition, and dialogue. Too much dialogue, and your stories lack grounding. Too much exposition, and you’re telling, not showing. Like everything, there needs to be a balance. Going back to The Magicians, to write, just like to cast, the circumstances have to be right.
The world is a mess right now. There’s no other way to say it. The world is pushing down on us in every way imaginable. We cannot control it.
But we can control ourselves. We can control how that pain manifests itself. We are not only magicians, readers, we are alchemists who can turn blood into wine. It doesn’t have to happen instantly. The spell might take one month or one year, but in the end, if you lean into it, if you trust yourself, and if you remember, you are powerful, and not shy away from those feelings, you might just make something great.
And I believe, with my whole heart and being, we will be the best magicians known to man.
Kosoko Jackson is a digital media specialist, focusing on digital storytelling, email, social and SMS marketing, and a freelance political journalist. Occasionally, his personal essays and short stories have been featured on Medium, Thought Catalog, The Advocate, and some literary magazines. When not writing YA novels that champion holistic representation of black queer youth across genres, he can be found obsessing over movies, drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog, or spending far too much time on Twitter. His YA debut, YESTERDAY IS HISTORY, came out in 2021, published by SourceBooks Fire and his adult #OwnVoices queer Romcom, I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU will come out in 2022, by Berkley Romance.