Even though winter is almost here, I still have flowers. The roses are on their way out, but mums and viola and snapdragons have taken their places. By spring, the roses will take over again and the cycle will continue as long as all things that bloom get what they need.

Writers are a lot like flowers. They produce under the right conditions, they need creative sustenance to thrive, and they grow best surrounded by other writers who offer good honest critique and encouragement.

In an effort to offer our membership those same amenities, The Quill will undergo some changes. While our monthly newsletter will continue to promote your successes in “Member Chatter” and provide timely information about our annual conference, as of January 2012, The Quill will no longer be strictly conference oriented.

But in order to make those changes, I need to hear your ideas on what you’d like to see in The Quill. What kinds of craft issues would you like to see addressed? What kinds of contests are you interested in? Do you know someone who is a contest hound who would make a great resource for The Quill? Do you know of someone who would be a great columnist but might need a little arm-twisting? Or would you be interested in writing a monthly column?

If you’re a gardener, you know there are always to-do-lists, and, for many of us, the holiday season is no different. After talking to several SCWW members, the general consensus is they’d love to see more Quill articles on ways to sell yourself and your manuscript, on craft and contests.

As you make your lists over the next few weeks, think about what you’d like to see in The Quill. How would you make it better? What could we add to The Quill that would help you blossom artistically and publish? Most importantly, what do you need to grow?

Please Email your ideas to

Many thanks, and have a wonderful writing season.

Kim Boykin

Quill Editor

New Board of Directors

The election of a new B of D was accomplished at the November 19 SCWW Board Meeting. Your new Board takes effect January 1, 2012.

BELISE BUTLER, Columbia II Chapter

LINDA COOKINGHAM, Surfside Chapter

MONET JONES, Columbia III Chapter

JIM MCFARLANE, Greenville Chapter


KIM BOYKIN, Rock Hill Chapter - second year of two-year term

MARTHA GREENWAY, Camden Chapter - second year of two-year term

KIA GOINS, unaffiliated - returning for a two-year term

TIBBY PLANTS, Surfside Chapter - returning for a two-year term

GINNY PADGETT, Columbia II Chapter - returning for a two-year term

Puff the Magic Dragon

Lots of people believe in magic of some sort: ghosts (check the statistics on this), the supernatural, aliens (maybe not the same as magic), the magic of sleight-of-hand—even as adults we often can't figure out how a trick is done. I always believed that we humans are more than we appear, that hidden inside us are wondrous abilities, indeed, magical abilities.

We all have the power to view the world in magical ways. Artists create images, sculpture, performance, music, and stories through which they share their magical vision with others.

Perhaps we have forgotten the power of believing. Sometimes reminders of our own magic come from unexpected places.

My daughter and three-year-old granddaughter stayed with my husband and me for six weeks while my daughter, an actor, performed for Atlantic Stage here in Myrtle Beach. While they were here, I learned something about magic.

Since my daughter worked most nights I put granddaughter to bed. t so, and two bedtime songs. Needless to say, I quickly ran out of songs.

One song became her favorite: “Puff the Magic Dragon.” I printed out the lyrics because I didn't remember them. But something was missing from the story. Remember: Jackie Paper stopped believing in Puff, so Puff didn't come play with him. It was too sad. Children believe in magical things. So I added another verse:

If you believe in magic and miss that rascal Puff

Then he will come visit you if you believe enough.

Just say his name out loud and he'll come out his cave

And be your friend forever and never, ever leave.

After I had sung the song a thousand times, I discovered something. I found truth, which could also be called magic.

We writers must believe in our own magic: our ability to tell stories. The magic only happens when we believe we can do it, and we take time to pursue the dream.

My wish for all you writers: let the dragon into your lives. Believe in yourselves and your power to create. Learn your craft, network, write, revise and submit.

There are many magical moments in this year's Petigru Review. Thanks to all who submitted and shared their magic with the world. It is available on Amazon.

Seeing Things Differently

I heard a radio interview with Steve Jobs on the day after his death. No doubt you will ask, “What does being an aspiring writer have to do with talk from a celebrated entrepreneur?” I suggest that any writer who wants to make an impact in the publishing world has to help people do what Steve Jobs did – see things differently.

In January, 1986, the association where I was working provided IBM desktop computers for all operating departments. I found that it made many of my routine tasks go faster, but it didn’t do much to liberate my imagination. Remember this was back in the days of clunky, bulky machines using MS-DOS, which even at its best was not a helpful tool for the inexperienced user.

About three years later, I moved on to a job elsewhere. On my first day at work, I found an odd-looking box on my desktop. When I started using it, I learned that the Macintosh was indeed a different way of doing things. I learned over time to start visualizing my work tasks differently, thinking in terms of text, graphs, and images as an integrated whole. In other words, the aforementioned Mr. Jobs, was right: If a computer helped you see things differently, it might change the way you did things, not just the speed with which you did them.

That’s what’s creative about “creative writing.” There aren’t that many great original plots around. I mentioned to my students that The Odyssey is a tale that has been retold many times. When I mentioned O Brother, Where Art Thou? (perhaps the most recent example), the looks of surprise on their faces was a reward of the kind that teachers live for.

Different singers sing the same song in unique ways. That’s something even those of us who aren’t particularly original can do: we can make a song our own anthem and by doing that help others to hear it differently. While I conceded that there’s been much great sci-fi writing over the years, and while I find it sometimes to read Harry Turtledove, I don’t have the skill to create an entirely new world. I find it’s enough of a challenge to my writing skills to take an old story and express it in a new way.

Find a familiar song and make it your own. That’s one of the greatest rewards of any creative endeavor.