Do you only think of the lyrics to a Lovin' Spoonful song? What about David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear? Or does a spell of protection spring to mind? What about Ron Weasley spitting out slugs when his wand backfired? It doesn't matter. All of that is magic, of course, but the definition isn't limited there.
When I'm looking for magic in my writing, I don't limit myself to illusions or even to strict fantasy. Magic, at least for me, is anything that can't be explained. That's a belief my parents instilled, whether they meant to or not.
You see, my parents have always enjoyed reading the classics and encouraged us kids to do the same. When a classic story was made into a movie or television special, we were not only fortunate enough to watch it (usually with a big bowl of popcorn and getting to stay up late to finish that extra half-hour of the show!), but we were actively engaged in conversation about the movie and inspired to check out the original from the library to compare versions.
That practice, instilled by my parents and carried on with my own children, really set my belief in magic. My mom is a huge fan of both Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. Dad appreciates the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain. Is it any wonder that A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (both the 1949 and 1956 movie versions) was the topic of many such discussions?
I learned at a young age that the technology we take for granted was magic to those who just didn't understand it or had never before seen it.
So what does that mean for my writing? Easy, it means that there is no limit to the imagination. It means the things I can think up could be reality in the future. (Don't think so? Check out some of the original Dick Tracy comics, right Dad?)
There's no limit to the magic I use in my writing. Granted, I don't have my reluctant witch flying on a broomstick, and my stories take place in the here and now, but the magic she sees is real to her. The magic of Tarot cards or the magic of seeing a new place through the eyes of her children. Seriously, how magical is the life of a child? Everything is new and unexplained to them. That's true magic and no story can have enough of it!
Take some time this week to look at your life and find the magic in it. I'd be willing to bet you'll find more than illusions and lyrics. You'll find entire worlds that will open your eyes with wonder...