Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Talk March 5th: The Magic of Writing

Magic has been a subject of much discussion in the media circles I frequent these days. Some of the writers in my LinkedIn discussion group are of the mind that magic is a crutch. Writers in a Fantasy Writer's discussion group! That's not cool. The core of some of the best fantasy novels is magic. I piped up right away to call them out on that. Then they backpedaled and said what they meant was that magic shouldn't be used to overcome every obstacle in a book.

Duh. Nothing should become so overpowering in a book that it can solve all the problems by itself.

Okay, now on to the other magical things in recent events.

Earlier today, Rebecca from my writing group told me that the guys down at the copy shop were pretty fond of me. She was printing out pages from her manuscript, and since she was working on a book, they asked her if she knew me! I only did two jobs with them, six laminated posters and a few hundred little flyers. Six months ago. Guess it made an impression. That's the stuff!

Monday was the Western Idaho Regional Science Bowl. This event was until recently the INE(E)L Scholastic Tournament. Participating in that in high school has always been one of my favorite memories, and while checking the company website at work, I saw the call for volunteers to help run it this year, and signed up.
The format changed, but the atmosphere was the same as I remembered it. Seasoned teams intent on taking home first place. Teams who had lost most of their players the year before, and were mostly lost, and guessing, if they answered at all. And teams that were just there to have fun.
I don't remember the people running the tournament having to work so hard. Then again, our team was brand new to the format, was mostly lost, trying to take home first place, all while having fun. We didn't pay much more attention than that.
It was great seeing how competent those kids are these days, and how dedicated the volunteers and staff at the event are. Half of them were old hands that all knew each other from years before, the other half newbies like me that had pretty much no clue what we were doing, other than the best we could.
I was helping out as scorekeeper in Hatch B, which was round robin play all day long. Two of my fellow volunteers were Micron employees I'd never met, another from Idaho Power, and the last was a math professor at BSU.
At the beginning of each match where we had new teams, we would all introduce ourselves, tell a little about who we were, what we did. It felt strange telling people that I was a writer, who also worked at Micron. It felt good though.
Here's the kicker... During the afternoon session, we were still running round robin play with the teams that did not make it into the double elimination tournament after lunch. One of the teams we'd had in the room several times was back, and it was halftime of their match. One of the contestants had been looking at me a little funny, and I was starting to get a bit wierded out. "What was the book you wrote?" she finally asked. When I answered, she got the big eyes. "I've heard of that!" I don't know if she was joking or not, but I choose to believe she was sincere. That's more of the good stuff.
The takeaway I got from the day was that there are plenty of good kids out there that are bright enough to be our next generation of engineers, technicians, scientists. And if we're lucky enough, fans.

That's the magic.