The Magic of Writing

Drawing: Writing A for apple, Be for ball, clay tablet, papyrus, parchment, book, book. Caption reads: “Telepathy, facilitated by symbols with an agreed meaning.”

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The Magic of Writing by Iris Carden

A lot of my stories involve magic. The real magic, however,  is not the story, but that the story can be told. I can transfer an idea from my mind to yours, this telepathy facilitated by symbols with an agreed meaning.

Way back in the dim dark past, when I was first learning “A is for apple, B is for ball,” no-one told me it was magic.  No-one said, “This skill is going to unlock endless knowledge, and also open doors to worlds that don’t exist and epic stories that never happened.”

No-one told me that for big chunks of history, this skill has been considered so precious, or even so dangerous, that it was kept for a very small, exclusive, group of people.

Writing has a very long history of being used for both practical and storytelling purposes. There are surviving Mesopotamian clay tablets, with cuneiform writing, with business documents like invoices, but also with the Epic of Gilgamesh. (Gilgamesh being considered the world’s first known book).

From Egyptian scribes writing in pictograms on tomb walls, or papyrus, to Herodotus writing his histories, to medieval scribes labouring over illuminated manuscripts, writing has been modified, and grown and changed, but has continued.

Just how much we depend on the magic of writing, makes it even more amazing that some cultures can pass their histories and stories down by word-of-mouth.

The printing press democratised reading, taking it out of the hands of the very few, and made it available to anyone capable of learning to read. In the same way, the internet and print-on-demand have democratised writing, making anyone with a story to tell a potential published author.

When I was a child, learning the basics of reading and writing, I couldn’t imagine a world where I could carry an entire library in my handbag. 

As a teenager writing my stories on an old manual typewriter, I couldn’t imagine that I would one day be able to share a story with an international audience the same day as I wrote it, or that I would be able to easily publish my own books.

Right now, anyone can be a writer and anyone can be a reader. It’s an amazing world to live in, one that those scribes in older times could never have imagined.

Words are magic.  Magic has power. That’s why oppressive regimes ban books with ideas they don’t like.  They’re afraid of the power of words being written down and read. 

Enjoy your writing, fellow writers. Enjoy your reading, fellow readers.  

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Everything on this site is the product of human, not artificial, intelligence.


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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