The Fate of “Writing Magic” As A Lit Major

Writing Magic: The feeling I have when I’m writing and enjoying the process. This feeling can come even while I struggle, or when I’m frustrated at the inability to find the correct word, or even while reading material someone else wrote.

When I began my BA nearly four years ago, I didn’t go into it believing I would come out smarter. Perhaps that mindset is what lead me to losing the Writing Magic as I progressed further in school.

My degree has three core creative writing workshop courses, but these didn’t knock out the Magic.

Studying classical literature–from Shakespeare to Keats to contemporary Canadian novels–made me feel like a fake. There was no way I could consider myself a True Writer while these figures towered over me from beyond the grave and book awards ceremonies in Toronto and Vancouver. What was the point? I would never be as good as them.

Through the numerous short stories, poems, and novels I read for classes, I figured out how to analyse writing quickly. I wrote essays. Some of them took days and multiple drafts, and with nervous fingers I would present them to my professor or place them on the desk at the front of the room. Others were lightning-quick, hastily-formed essays constrained to 90-minute or 3-hour blocks of time for an exam, and I would lightly pencil in my thoughts in the margins so I could have structure, ultimately erasing these crude half phrases.

Dare I say it, I learned how to write a mean essay analysing a single point in a piece of writing. I’m not the best, but better when compared to my failures in first year (where I failed a course called “Writing About Literature” due to 1. my incompetence; and 2. my mental health). Somewhere along the way, a light went off; or, more realistically, a certain professor changed the way I looked at literature analysis and helped me figure out how to write a fucking university-level thesis.

So what happened to my love of reading fiction? fantasy? YA novels?

And my love of writing fiction?

Those loves died somewhere. I became a cold cut with no appetite for aesthetics. Sterile. Literature became a thing to criticise, rather than savour and create.

I want to find the Magic again.

As part of my goals for this year, I’ve resolved to wake up early and write. I haven’t specified what I’ll write–on Day 1, I wrote the bulk of this blog post–but I determined that I will write. I have also determined to read daily outside of school. I’ve been working my way through The Chronicles of Narnia again because they seem to kindle some small, precious glow that might be some of the leftover Magic.

No more sitting around lamenting I Don’t Have Time Or Energy Because I Read And Write So Much For School. I’m an adult and I have goals. I can’t possibly take myself seriously if I don’t put in as much effort as possible to achieve those goals. Perhaps that’s the difference between shyly saying, “I’m a writer,” and confidently saying, “I’m a writer.”

I hope that, somewhere in the pre-dawn scribbling and typing, and the frantic nightly page-turning, I can find the Magic again. That excitement; that rush of endorphins; that minuscule, encouraging spark–they still exist. Matter does not disappear; it merely transforms and moves. I will read and write until I come across those sparks of Magic again.

I hope I find something. Anything.

The Fate of "Writing Magic" As A Lit Major--Blog post on what happened when I went to study literature as a creative writer.

2 Comments


  1. I can relate to what you’re going through. I took up Creative Writing as my major when I transferred from a 2-year university to a 4-year university. I remember taking the classes I needed to get my degree, but lost the feeling of enjoying what I wrote. I have my degree, but am not really doing anything with it. The university offered me to go to their career center to figure out what I can do with my degree.

    Anyway, it wasn’t until later in my life when I decided to get back to what I wanted to do. I think right now, you’re at a point where you can regain that magic. Take advantage of it.

    Reply

    1. Thank you, George!

      A friend of mine in the same program has seen career advisors almost every other week. I think we’re all disenchanted into thinking a degree is an all-access pass to Jobland, when really, it’s more of a promotional code we can use that isn’t very helpful.

      I’m glad I’m not alone, and I’m thrilled that you’re getting back to writing. 🙂 I’ll try my hardest to let myself experience the magic.

      Reply

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