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The Magic of Writing

It occurred to me tonight that I've lost something in my chosen art and craft. My passion for writing has always been, but the magic - the MAGIC of writing - seems to have bled away.

Maybe it's because I've grown older, as people often do. Or maybe it's because technology has taken over my life. Or maybe it's because I've seen so many things throughout the years, the good and the bad, that I've just become jaded. After all, I once held a strong belief in Santa Claus, but now I'm much more apt to believe in Krampus.

Whatever the case, the magic seems to have run dry for me, and I think the reason is probably a synthesis of those. Over the years, as my writing has improved and has become a lifestyle more than a passion-laden hobby of mine, the magic has seemingly evaporated. I became less concerned with building worlds and pitting dragons against heroines and more concerned with craft basics, structure, and rules, which I rarely pay attention to anyway. As my relationship with technology grew, so did my experience and exposure, and I found myself sitting farther and farther away from the pencil and pad and closer and closer to the screen and keyboard. That's what occurred to me tonight and the basis for the memory that I'll share with you now.

Sometime in my formative years - I don't really recall what age - I remember my family going on vacation to Wildwood, New Jersey. We had fun of course, and when we came home I was wearing a brand new shirt brandishing the image of a frightening skeleton holding an axe with printed words saying, "I'm your worst nightmare."

I loved that shirt, and using it as my inspiration I sat down one day and wrote an amazing story. Now, I don't recall what that story specifically entailed, but I do remember how proud I felt to create something so easily but also so full of heart and soul. A part of my soul bled from my hand, through the pencil, and onto those pages...

I'm smiling now just thinking about how good I felt that day.

This was before I became near-surgically attached to a computer. I wrote that story using a simple pencil and notebook, and maybe that's why the magic was there--in fact, the magic was so strong then that my dad took me to buy more notebooks later on with money that I had received for my birthday.

...not toys, notebooks!

That's significant to me because it evokes other memories throughout my life as a writer. One memorable story that I wrote when I was still in Cub Scouts was called The Wings of Croutons. Other than the title and the memory that it was a fantasy tale, I don't remember anything about it, but it had to be good because, well... croutons! Then there was another story I wrote in an ugly, green, hardbound notebook while I was deployed to the Philippines that took up nearly eighty pages. And finally, when I was deployed to Iraq, I wrote story after story, poem after poem, and I did it every. single. day.

Throughout my writing life, the magic has always been there so long as one constant was in practice: that I had a notebook to write in. It wasn't until I started using a computer for most of my writing that the magic seemed to have faded. In a way it makes sense. Notebooks are paper made from and containing the vital life force of a tree, and when a writer devotes his energy to his craft and bleeds his soul into a notebook, I'm almost certain that that trees essence is bled right back into the writer. The tree and the writer are as one, unified for eternity.

You don't get that from using a computer. Man-made energy can never compare to the natural energy derived from the Earth or a living being. That's something else that occurred to me tonight, and that's why I decided to write this post in a notebook before typing it here.

There is a magic to writing. It's a type of magic that you can't get from typing or from using any other medium that doesn't involve a utensil and a beautiful blank page. I smile now knowing that what I thought I'd lost, that I wrote at the beginning, I found at its end. I found that magic through this story, and it came from remembering to have an appreciation for the extreme power and vital life force contained within these pages.

I wrote this for me, really. I had no one else in mind as I scribbled away. And maybe that's another element to the Magic of Writing.

Swissmas!

(Originally published in November 2014)

You know what I like? I like Christmas. …well, the idea of Christmas anyway. I like spending time with my family, having good meals and good laughs, and I like to give and receive gifts.

You know what I don't like? I don't like being questioned why I celebrate Christmas if I'm not a Christian. As if that's even a valid question, considering the fact that Christmas was put in place near the Winter Solstice to convert Pagans to Christianity back in the days of old. Anyway, that's why I created Swissmas.

Swissmas was conceived in November 2013 while I was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate (guess which brand) and reading news articles about the so-called "War on Christmas" and other negatively-laced topics. Then the famous words from the show Seinfeld blew through my mind… "A Festivus for the rest of us."

Eureka! This needs to be a thing!

And so I went to work.
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Unlike other holidays around this time of the year, Swissmas leaves out any type of religious connotation. This isn't to say that one can't celebrate their chosen religion's holiday(s), of course—feel free. This means that whether you subscribe to a certain dogma or not, you can celebrate this holiday. To make it simple for everyone, Swissmas lasts the entire month of December. So, you can celebrate it from December 1 through December 31, or you can just pick a certain day or set of days. Personally, I celebrate Swissmas on December 1, 21 (the Winter Solstice), 24, 25, and 31. Any or all days are available to you, based on your preference. As far traditions are concerned, do what makes you happy. Our traditions (so far) include many different things, some of which may be confusing to others. For instance, we put up our traditional Christmas Swissmas Tree, and we have a 24 day Advent Calendar. Again, one may ask why we have an Advent Calendar if we aren't Christian, and the answer is simple—I like cheap chocolate.

So, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holidays around this time of year, feel free to celebrate this holiday in between, or even on those days. Below you will find the basics of Swissmas.

Who: Who can celebrate this holiday? Everyone! He may celebrate Christmas, and she may celebrate Yule, but they can both set aside their religious preferences for a day or the month, and celebrate Swissmas together.

What: What is Swissmas? Swissmas is like Christmas, but without religion. It's a celebration of happiness and gratitude for everyone.

Where: Where is it? It's everywhere, so long as you can set aside your differences.

Why: Why did I create this? Initially, this holiday was created because I was tired of being questioned why I celebrate Christmas if I'm not a Christian. Now, it's because we need unity as a human race throughout the entire year, and I think setting aside one month to forget our differences is a great start.

When: When is it? Swissmas can be celebrated throughout the entire month of December, or you can pick any individual days that you want. There are no restrictions, just individual preferences.

How: How do you celebrate it? Any way that you want! Bring out the Yule Log, stand up the tree, or even bust out the aluminum Festivus Pole. Any way that you want to celebrate this holiday, you can.
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That's all for now folks.I appreciate you stopping by and taking a gander at the workings of this secular holiday. The underlying principle of Swissmas is simply unity. In the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other."

Thanks, Jon