For My Fellow Magicians….

Years ago I bid adieu to the rodent relay, and I couldn’t be more happy about it because now I have the time to do the things I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. One of those things is teaching, and more specifically, teaching writing to those who want to learn the craft. Most of my students are of my generation, and most are also retired. Like me, they want to take advantage of the time and resources they have, and I’m tickled to be able to help them.

I love to see the great strides many of them make. Some have had little or no formal training, others were steeped in academic writing, but very few have any experience with what I call “commercial” writing. That is, writing meant for a mass market, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, essay, travel, or almost anything else. I make a special distinction for one kind of writing: I refuse to teach anyone how to write documentation. I did that for way too many years, and no one in management liked the way I did it. (On the other hand, the folks who had to read it often thanked me for making it light and humorous whenever I could. Management, evidently, has no sense of humor.)

There’s an issue which pops up frequently among my more successful students, those who’ve applied themselves for an extended period and have produced a children’s book, a novel (and in some cases, several novels) or a memoir. Every last one of them claims not to “feel” like a writer. They can’t say what a writer should feel like, but however that is, they don’t feel it.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight. So, be it known now and forevermore: Anyone who writes a book and takes the time and makes the effort to produce something as good as it can be, is a writer.

Most of the writers I know are modest folk, and that includes many tremendously successful ones. There are a few pompous assholes to be sure, but by and large, the writing crowd is characterized by people who are not only imaginative and creative, they’re generally thoughtful and caring as well.

We may not all come from the same places, socially, ethnically or politically, but that doesn’t matter. The feeling that we’re somehow frauds because we turn ideas into words and words into pictures is fairly universal. It’s a kind of magic, and most of us aren’t willing to accept that in some cases, magic really does exist. And, in fact, we’re the magicians.

Therefore I want to celebrate all my fellow magicians, no matter where they fall on the scale of creation. What we do has value. What we do makes a difference.

What we do makes us who we are.



About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Historical writing, Memoir, novel writing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to For My Fellow Magicians….

  1. Doris Reidy says:

    Ah, thank you for this! I’m one of those “frauds”, eternally waiting for validation.

  2. polinto says:

    Wow! I can’t believe how much this fits. Thanks!

  3. Robert Mumford says:

    Thanks Josh!!!

  4. Susanne says:

    You really are a kind sage. Thanks for your encouragement and your generous spirit.

  5. Margot says:

    Perhaps some consider themselves writers with a completed project, but not FEELING like
    a writer until somebody actually PAYS you for it.

  6. MaryCan says:

    Josh, thank you for this one — I needed it. Will print it out so it can be in its proper place – on the window blind next to my monitor! Thanks again. And again.

  7. Gerald Flinchum says:

    Amen Josh! Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. Betty says:

    Well said. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really a writer.

  9. Sonya says:

    Well, well. A name that finally describes what I’ve been doing!
    Thanks, Josh.

  10. An-l says:

    Thanks, Josh for encouraging me to keep at it. You’ve taught me more than you realize and helped me through some difficult times. Writing is therapy for me. It is truly magical how it has made a difference in my life.

  11. Vikki Yoder says:

    Rodent Relay….perfect!! The Rat Race is not fun! Of course it keeps us on our toes!! Hoping to register for one or two of your classes!! I called Olli, and they said I should be getting fall catalog tomorrow. I was so happy in your writing class, and I loved the feedback that everyone provided. I loved this Sage of the South, magical magicians are the writers of our world. I’m feeling more confident and ready to proceed after reading your words. Thank you for all you give to others!!

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