The Magic Of Words

A funny thing happened to me this week—funny as in ‘ouch!’ then ‘wow!’, not funny haha. I got a slap on the noggin from that Universe ‘cos I’d lost my sense of wonder and perspective on words…on writing. Not such a good thing for a writer, right?

I had a knee-jerk reaction (naturally), but a minute or two later, I was struck by a revelation: somewhere along the line of writing stories, writing copy, writing blurbs and writing to inform, I’d forgotten the magic of words! It’s kinda like waking up from a dream not realizing I’d fallen asleep in the first place. Perhaps, I’d been in danger of becoming a zombified writer (you know what I mean: going through the motions, but not really cognizant on all levels)…Here’s what happened.

So, CRES is running an Open Mic Challenge over on the new site. I’d nabbed the ‘mic’ first to challenge everyone to write a limerick (why? ‘cos I love them) and I knew I could do a decent job of it. It went down well (the challenge, not my limericks) and I got around to writing the next challenge…Problem’s that I don’t write much poetry—the odd rhyme for my amusement every few years, but not poetry! Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I didn’t even have to write a masterpiece, just something decent to illustrate what you can do (much better then me) when you get the theme: Mothership.

I drafted the limerick (no problem) and got to work on the poem/verse. I’m a storyteller, and prefer reading verse that’s foremost a story, so that’s what I wrote. To my surprise, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. First drafts done, and feeling rather chuffed, I sent them off to our editor, Fran. Here’s what the limerick and poem drafts looked like for Mothership.

We lost our fuel cells near Betelguese, 
our pioneering colony caught in a noose.
Along came some shy Aldebarans,
and offered us some tentacled han’s.
What a boos’!
It looms,
taking up all the room
in the gloom.
Darkness flees from glaring beams,
like something from a dream,

odd figures seep from grey seams.
A rush of activity,
reminiscent of a city,
turns the air heavy and gritty.

Its progeny embark with an inhale,
the air screams a gale,

then all memories of it are pale.

Then, along came the edit.

We lost our fuel cells near Betelguese,
Our home ship was caught in a noose.
Along came some shy Aldebarans,
and offered helping tentacled han’s.
Now we’re loose!

It looms,
in the gloom,
the ship of many rooms.
Darkness flees its bright beams,
bringing us hope for our dreams,
Grey worries never enter its seams.
A rush of boarding activity
to a ship large as a city,
aurora hull gleaming pretty.
Then its engines inhale,
with a roar like a gale,
and the great ship sweeps off like a whale.

I thought the limerick worked much better with the edit and was pleased with it. But the poem—my almost masterpiece—it’s not the story I was telling! Typical writer’s knee-jerk. Because that’s what matters, the story—at least for me.

After a minute or two, I read the edit again, and was floored by the magic of words. Take a minute and compare the draft and the edit again and see if you see what I saw.
Same rhymes and similar words (more or less), similar imagery but totally, totally different story and tone! Just a few word changes, just a little rearranging…And a magical transformation! The story went from a grey, eldritch feel to optimistic, colorful and light. Who needs a magic wand when you have a pen or a word processor instead?

Putting myself in Fran’s shoes, I saw that the edited versions also fit the CRES mission and guidelines more fully—something that (as a writer) should have been at the forefront of my mind. And, like another flash of magic, my perspective and feelings about the edit changed. The poems were much better suited to the post’s intent and our message. My writings on science fiction have been a little darker recently (or maybe they’ve always been so), but here’s a way forward for me to bring some lightness to my writing in that genre—playing with the magic of words. Like I used to before I started turning into a zombie writer.
Thanks Fran! I needed that.

Here’s to all editors with magic pens wands word processors eyes.
And if you’d like to enter the Open Mic challenge (it’s got prizes and a badge!) be sure enter soon.

Before I close my magic typewriter
(okay, it’s keyboard),
I invite you to play with
the magic of words.




  1. Hi Leena. Thank you for having the Magic Eyes to see value in the edit. It’s natural to first defensive of one’s work, but for the very sake of that work, it’s good to consider criticism from (probably) reliable sources. Also, this can help us understand the writers, when we ask them to rewrite their stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thanks, Fran. I’m glad it works both ways, And yes, a writer’s first response to criticism and edits is usually defensive!
      Thanks for stopping by! See you at the Openmic 😀


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