In 2021 my “word of the year” was more than an annual theme for me — Stay on Target became a strategy at the foundation of my planning process. It is a method that helps me keep track of my daily tasks without losing site of my overall goals and ambitions for the year.

For 2022, I wanted to add something that would be equally functional, a word or phrase that inspired action and effort throughout the year, a quest in its own right, a search for meaning and beauty and joy in my own life.

That quest became “Find the Magic” and because I don’t think I’ve reached the end of that journey yet 1, I will be continuing though 2023.

What does Find the Magic mean? In the simplest sense, it means actively looking for the magic the world presents, acknowledging it, and bringing it into my life. It also means making magic myself, which for me revolves around acts of creativity and transformation.

The best record of last year’s efforts to Find the Magic is my Instagram account. For me, taking a photo is an act of transformation, and I often take that transformation a step further with editing, trying to turn what I see into something not quite seen. I’m sure I’ll be continuing this in the year to come.

What you can’t see on my Instagram, because I’m shy to share my own face too often, is my personal transformation. Or, more correctly, the transformation of my aesthetic. As a fat, income-challenged woman for most of my adult life, dressing well has always been a challenge — thrift stores and clearance racks don’t offer up a lot of appealing plus-sized fashions. But as my finances have stabilized over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself able to invest in my wardrobe in a way I never have before. And my hair, too — I added a section of magenta to my already-plum hair this year, and it’s been phenomenal! I finally look like I want to look, which makes me feel good, and confident, and seen. I have gotten more compliments on my style in the past year than I have in my whole life — and compliments are definitely a special kind of magic.

This year, I hope to continue both photography and my personal aesthetic as ways of finding magic. But I want to do more as well — I planned to take regular “magical field trips” last year, and that never really happened. I would like to write more about what I mean by “magic” and the many ways it can materialize in your life. I would like to make things (other than photos) that express a sense of magic, and transform the spaces around me with some of the same aesthetic. I would like to help others find their own magic in the world, too. To that end, I’ve started a newsletter on Substack that will bring subscribers a little magic every week — it’s free, so I hope you’ll subscribe.

Find the Magic is a personal journey, but one I hope will lead to something of value to others as well. Here’s the thing: I don’t think you can be a proper fantasy writer if you don’t have some appreciation for the magic in our own world. If you can’t see magic here, how can you translate it to the page? I’m not suggesting that you have to dress a certain way or anything like that — magic is a very individual sort of thing — but I don’t know how someone who thinks that magic is only for books can create stories and worlds filled with anything other than imitation.

I don’t love fantasy because it’s filled with things that aren’t real — I love it because it transforms what’s real into something even more meaningful and profound. Find the Magic is a quest to create that same transformative power outside the pages of a book.

  1. It’s probably a lifelong quest.

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