Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Guest Blogger - Casey Daniels

Casey Daniels here, and I’ve been asked to write about “the magic of writing mystery.”

Hmmm . . .

The topic is interesting, and it’s got me thinking. Is there magic in writing? In mystery writing in particular? Well, the quick and dirty answer is that if there’s any magic, it has to be that I can kill people for a living and get away with it!

But something tells me that’s not what I’m supposed to be blogging about. As readers, we certainly know that books are magical. They can transport us in time and place. They can move our emotions, change our way of thinking, send our brains in all sorts of directions and make us dream and wonder and doubt.

The writing, though, is another thing.

Often, when I give talks to readers’ groups, someone will bring up writer’s block. “How do you keep going?” the person will ask. “How do you meet deadlines when you come up against writer’s block?”

And I’ll tell you what . . . I always give the same answer: I don’t believe in writer’s block. Because the fact is, I don’t believe there’s any magic in the process of writing.

Writing is, in a word, hard work. OK, so that’s two words, but you get what I’m aiming at here. There is no magical place you walk into when you sit down to write, no magical process that allows your fingers and your keyboard easy access to your brain so that all the words just spill out in perfect, readable order.

Every word is work. Every sentence has to be slapped and shaped, written and rewritten. And it happens with every paragraph and page and chapter, too.

That’s not to say I don’t believe in the power of inspiration. Sure, ideas pop into every writer’s head, and sometimes we take those ideas and run with them and realize that they are right on the money. But the writing part . . . there are days the words come easier, and I suppose there is a certain magic in that. Not to mention a whole bunch of gratitude on my part when I realize that I’ve completed more pages than usual. But most days . . . ah, most days are simply work days, days of coming up with the ideas, and chipping away at the words and thinking that there is something good and readable and interesting there--if only I can find the right words, and put everything in the right order.

I recently did a book signing and a woman came up to me and said she wanted to write a novel some day. “But,” she said, “I’m not at the point yet of starting because every time I write something, I have to rewrite it.”

The magic? The magic is knowing that’s what we all do. Everyday.

The magic is doing it, anyway.


  1. Great post, Casey! Thank you. It IS hard work. And it's reassuring to know such a successsful writer thinks so!

    There is magic,I think, in someone reading your book. You know? I imagine them opening the cover, starting on page one..and not being able to put it down. They're taken into the world we've created! That's pretty magical.

    Happy holidays!

  2. Casey, this is perfect. To me, writing is one of the hardest things I do. These days, especially, I wish it were a little more magical... :)

    Great, great post.

  3. LOL. Hank has it perfectly. I thought as I was reading the beginning of your post that there IS magic for us. I love your books and look forward to each new one. It is a high spot in my day, and if I can sit and devour it in one shot all the better. We all appreciate the hard work that goes into these wonderful books. Please keep it up.

  4. From the time I first walked into a public library as a child books and authors seemed magical to me. Far from my own reality of those days and today Casey makes a good point that writing is hard work. At least it is for me and from the posts I have read on here today for other authors. I am happy to make the magic happen for someone else and I am thrilled when I pick up a good book by one of our authors and the magic happens for me. Casey thank you for blogging with us today. The magic is in the rewriting and I love reading your books.

    Holiday Cheers,
    Pamela James

  5. I'm with you all! Oh yes, there is magic in reading, in opening the covers of a book and diving right in. I bet feeling that magic sizzling through our fingertips is what got us all into writing in the first place. So nice to know there are so many kindred spirits. Try explaining all this to someone who DOESN'T read. Or write. Sigh.


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