The Alchemy Of Words by Sophia Kouidou-Giles

At the end of the day, here is what we writers do: we make magic when we delve into plots, set the stage, draw scenes, choose words, linger in the past or visualize the future. We levitate, turning into alchemists of the soul.  We take ink and draft words. We take clay and give it shape. We take lead and turn it into gold.

Although we are common, everyday folk, our quest leads us to the temple to sacrifice at the altar of time and we pray for gifts and inspiration. Born observers, we set the camera lens wide tobegin the story and settle into a draft, selecting a setting, be it the sea, the desert or the moon, as we breathe life into our characters. Starting from ground zero, we weigh each word and engage in creating order. True citizens of this world, we serve. We sing for the deaf, paint for the blind, soften the pain of the wounded, speak our truth and fashion visions for tomorrow.   

The storyteller’s universe is huge, so we have to chunk it down to manageable pieces and when the ground underneath our feet feels firm and confidence builds, we mold drafts, observe, review,  taste and finally settle on a composition that borrows from the four elements of nature: earth, air, fire and water. In the confines of our cauldron, we brew our story.

 I would be a fool to try to list all the ingredients, modest, rich or exquisite involved in this enterprise. Devoted students and readers, we make sense out of chaos, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Our ultimate teacher is reading, writing, and writing some more. Each time, the practice itself reveals to us another aspect to store in the depot of our craft. 

Driven and inspired by disparate elements, we weave together fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama as we invoke the Muses, who reign over literature, science and art and channel their words onto the page. There are nine and they are daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne; we commune with them, sacrificing hours and days, dedicating ourselves to the cult of writing. They stand tall over us, taking turns, whispering, and we rush to record each word.

This ancient line up suggests mirrors, the distinct forms of art that are present and reflect creativity in each other. Euterpe, the Muse of music, swings along a tune as Terpsichore choreographs the seduction of the reader and we record. Bodies swirl to the rhythms of the melody, but hold still, because dance is sculpture that stands still for a moment when we stop action to capture the intensity of the scene. Erato fashions poetic lyrics and Calliope moves the plot into epic dimensions in gifted hands, like Homer’s. And the parade continues to unfold as endless permutations of words achieve the alchemy transforming our ordinary souls into the magic world of books.

About the contributor

Sophia Kouidou-Giles, born in Greece, resides in the USA. Her work has appeared in Voices, Persimmon Tree, Assay, The Raven's Perch and The Time Collection. Her poetry chapbook is Transitions and Passages. Her memoir, Επιστροφή Στη Θεσσαλονίκη, published in Greece, is forthcoming by She Writes Press, entitled The Return.

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