I want to be famous for THIS reason alone

Photo by Edilson Borges on Unsplash

I have two fantasy universes. One’s the Twiggiverse, and I’m not talking about it.

The other’s the Cityverse. (These are working titles.) I’ve been writing a lot in the Cityverse.

Thing about the Cityverse is I mainly write modern, urban fantasy in it. And the character I write about in it most often, Reg, is a sorcerer. The magic system I’ve come up with for the Cityverse has a handful of kinds of magic users.

The sort that Reg is uses the power of language to basically convince the magic of the world to do magic stuff. He gets a lot of energy, though, from community buy-in to the power, so he draws power from monuments and artifacts as well. He can make artifacts with power, if he has to, and he can create monuments by imbuing meaning into places, and he can write words that convince the magic to do things. But there’s deeper magic in stuff that the community already holds in high esteem.

The result is that already “powerful poetry” has the potential to have more magic than his own original poetry. Some specific exceptions, but by and large poetry with acknowledged power already works as magic.

This WOULD mean that old, excellent poetry would be full of potent incantation. Many other magic users contemporary to Reg know this, and there’s a culture of these magic users finding obscure poetry to be ever-greater magicians than their peers. There’s a sweet spot, you see. The super-popular poetry — Shelley, Yeats, Shakespeare, etc. — had HUGE power at first, but it’s been so spread out that its potency has dropped. Alternately, a poet no one has ever heard of EVER has only small potency too, because the World Itself never gained an appreciation for it. So most magic users are on a hunt for poets with enough obscurity that most people haven’t heard of them, but enough fame that the trees and the wind and the cockles of the minds of humanity resonate with it. The Lost Manuscript is by far the most exquisite find for these magicians. Everyone wants to find Byron’s lost poetry, or something, because a manuscript like that would have all the potency first put into it by Byron, but it was still fresh and strong.

Meanwhile, Reg has never heard of this culture of poetry memorization and hunting. By its nature, this kind of magic breeds a conservative, academic personality — one who’s perpetually looking into the dusty corners of old libraries and growing jealous of the few obscure couplets and scraps of prose no one else has.

Which has inadvertently left a huge library of poetry, in main, unreaped for its magical potency:

Rock and roll lyrics.

And Reg just so happens to be not much of an academic, but rather a serial rock and roll band starter. His brain is cluttered with too many rock and roll lyrics. When he starts to learn magic, he realizes that some of the lyrics he knows guide and direct magic. Some lyrics work better than others, obviously. The same balances of potent poetry govern the potency of rock and roll lyrics, when they’re used as magical incantations. The world of rock and roll lyrics has been largely dismissed by the magic users of this type in the world, though. It’s all a bit noisy and crass, and on the surface seems to lack depth. The going theory is that longevity is a necessary part of imbuing potency into the words.

It turns out that’s one big part. It’s not the only factor. Reg discovers a universe of raw, aggressive potency in the audible monuments that make up the world of rock and roll lyrics.

Which is one of only a very few reasons I’m impatient to become a well known writer. You can’t reproduce song lyrics without permission, you see. I’ve had to leave out a lot of stuff I’d like to include in my novels recently because Reg is using, like, a Megadeth lyric or something for an incantation, but I can’t include the lyric because I don’t have permission. Being more of a known writer, I feel like I could leverage these bigger bands to let me use their lyrics. So that would be cool.

I expect some of the less globally familiar bands might give me permission to quote their lyrics. Like Peach Pits or Dead Sara. I’ll probably be asking them at some point. Again, though, it’d be cool to be a more known writer so that my use of their lyrics would advertise for them too.

I don’t really crave fame — like at all. Fame would be pretty useful to add to my toolbox for writing stories set in the Cityverse, though. It’d be wicked to use lyrics in their proper places.

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