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I’m a Magician. No, Really.

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I’d be able to pack faster if I didn’t want people to think I was a magician.

Tomorrow morning first thing I’m headed off to the airport to begin two weeks of touring to fun places (Texas! California! Texas! California!), which means today I have to pack for two weeks of touring to fun places. There are a few difficulties associated with long term packing:

A) One never knows what the weather will be, and in 2012, one knows even less. One could pack for all possibilities, but that would not be space efficient. Tis better to gamble, gentle reader. Better to gamble.

B) One has to pack for multiple dress codes. I have simplified this process considerably by refusing to wear anything but jeans since 2008, but occasionally there are extenuating circumstances. For instance, I have to attend the LA Times Book Award reception where THE SCORPIO RACES is a finalist, knowing that if I win, I will have to stand in front of everyone. I will break my jeans-rule for that. I have a dress I can crush into the size of my eyeball that I can wear, but the shoes will be annoying. Maybe I can wear my combat boots.

C) One has to abide by TSA standards. So that means no more than 3, 3 ounce bottles of fluid in carry on, and nothing that you could poke someone’s eye out before gaining control of the plane and using it to fly to Tahiti. Also one has to be able to whip their lap top out in security.

D) One has to hoard food whenever possible. Maggies are allergic to some preservatives and intolerant of others (which you might be too, to some degree)(although hopefully it doesn’t make all your hair fall out and your skin slough like it does to me). So one must find room to stuff bags of cookies and possibly loaves of bread, like a hobbit or Peeta would do.

E) One must bring the office. One is always on a deadline, so the lap top and the charger and the iPod and the headphones must come along. Otherwise one’s editor begins to make squinty eyes.

F) One probably has to look cool in public while carrying the stuff. It had to be said. I think it’s important to counteract all the cranky, tired, deflated people I see in airports whenever possible. Which is why I usually pack in this for trips a week or less:

Every little bit helps.

And then, of course, if you are me, there is also:

G) One must convince others that one is a magician.

Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is this: every time someone says “I can’t believe you got ___ weeks of travel into ___ bags,” or some variant, I get an additional 10 minutes added to my life. 10 minutes might not seem like very much to you, but go eat a cookie and time yourself. Do you see how many cookies you can consume in 10 minutes? A lot. It adds up.

So it has become not only a matter of convenience but a matter of pride that nothing short of a month-long-book-tour can break me and send me packing a bag I have to check in at baggage. Everything else I will make fit into carry-on bags. Through sheer force of will.

Which means that today, packing day, becomes all about me trying to get as much of A-F into my luggage while still accomplishing G. And I use all my old techniques: packing jeans that will stand me wearing them two or three times. Packing layers instead of sweaters. Packing only what I need and not what I think I might possibly need. Rolling everything instead of folding it. Eventually, after working away at it for an hour, I end up with one or two or three weeks of outfits and my duffel spread out on the floor. And things of course don’t fit, because you can’t fit two weeks of touring into a duffel bag, no matter how good you are at packing.

Which is when I use magic.

Because I’m a magician. No, really.

  • Sarah

    So basically, according to your last paragraph, packing is like writing a book 🙂

  • Yes, I believe you are a magician, because how else are you going to pack 2 weeks worth of stuff into something you can carry onto a plane. How? I’m guessing it probably involves a magic wand, a couple sacrificial chickens (or chicken nuggets if you are squeamish), a few well placed magic words (which sound remarkably like swear-words to those uninitiated in the art of magic).

    Have fun on your trip! 😀

  • Vicki

    That’s pretty awesome! I never even contemplated how many cookies could be consumed in 10 minutes. Definitely need to start considering this when packing.

  • Liz

    I fully support wearing combat boots with a dress. My mom argues the fact, but I haven’t let her pick out my clothes for at least the last 20 years. I say wear them.

  • And here I am stressing about how I’m going to pack for my weekend long conference. I am going to be out in the wilds, so maybe that’s an excuse. I have an awful habit of overpacking. Priorities and Wants are totally the same thing to my packing brain. Now I must convince everyone that I am also a magician!

  • Ziploc baggies -definitely- help me in the packing-magician department. Plus, they are TSA friendly, if you have to pull out and show them that pair of pliers or scissors-with-blades-shorter-than-4-inches or knitting needles that you can’t possibly leave behind. (Knitting needles! Tahiti, here we come?)

    Also, medical supplies don’t have to follow the 3-1-1 rule. Thank goodness, because last time I flew somewhere, I had a cold, and you can’t find Robitussin in a 3 oz bottle!

    PS. Wish I could find my lembas bread recipe…

    • Oh, yes, I always pack EXTRA ziploc baggies, for when my supplies explode.

  • I’m sorry but I can’t stop thinking about you carrying that green spikey backpack through the airport!! LOL. Where in the world did you get such a thing??

      • Tammy

        Aha – thank you for this! I’m getting caught up on my Maggie Fill and the first thing my 3 yr old said when she saw me looking at this was “MOM! I WANT THAT BAG!”. Seeing as how everything she owns is currently pink I’m thinking this will be a good change for her while also scaring some of the other mean children away at her daycare 🙂 *perfect*

  • Evangeline

    I can’t believe you got so many weeks of travel into so few bags!

  • Anonymous

    This is not fair. You are an author, a musician, an artist, you can create recipes…and you’re a magician.

    Tell me something, Maggie. What can’t you do?

  • I have packed for a 10 day or so trip in my carry on…and at times up to a whole month depending on where I am staying. But then again the fact that I am cheap makes me do crazy packing 🙂

  • Jessa

    The gallon ziplocs are very handy for packing magicians. Roll up clothes, stuff in ziploc, kneel on until most of the air is out of it, and zip! There is no need to waste space packing air. For your clothes, that is 🙂

  • Alex

    Omg “like a hobbit or a Peeta would do…” did you read the Hunger Games series or just see the movie?

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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Copyright 2012