Revisions of Magic

A book's autobiography, telling the story of why it came to self-edit.

An upcoming novel by Syeed Ali.

It is in ignorant, enviable, bliss that some act without worry; to build, to share, and to love. Those lives only subtly, though importantly, influence future generations and, if they ever paused to think on it, perhaps that's all they'd care for. Others act in awareness and direct defiance of time's erosion; teaching, to shore their contributions against the tides of age. Though one day they will be dust, some small part of them might survive; first in the minds of others and later as diluted contributions which would fade into culture. Still others -- my kind -- recognize that a book can survive past its author's death, through the lives of their descendants and past the rise and fall of epochs, that it can do what a person cannot; directly teach those not yet born.

Franklyn's eyes were pointed toward an ugly wooden mug of cheap beer. He wasn't exactly looking at it, but more at the place where a drink that he cared about might have been, if life had turned out differently; not better, he was beyond such hope, but had taken any other path. His mind was as unfocused as his gaze, from a mood so low it muted the din of the tavern. A distant expression, as though listening for something, would be familiar to anyone whose own examination of their life amounted to a confusing series of failures.

Franklyn didn't notice the bitter cold. It wasn't because he was now well-equipped, determined, fed and clothed, or because of any kind of skill or experience. It wasn't some pleasure of travel that had him lose his sense of time. He was not concerned with responsibility, peer pressure or submission to his fate. Franklyn was neither growing up nor facing his inner demons. Instead, and for the first time, his mind was free and clear. The loneliness that had begun shaping his adult life had fallen away, leaving a feint inevitability that he had not yet noticed. It was almost optimism, nearly hope.