Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Power of Words

"There exists, for everyone, a sentence––a series of words––that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you're lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first." ––Philip K. Dick 

     I am reminded this week of how words have such power. As a writer, it shouldn't be such a startling realization to me. But as a human, I find it surprising nonetheless. They are only ink on paper, right? Only sounds vanishing in the air. Only zeros and ones pinging through cyberspace. No, they are more than that. They are the physical substance of a thought spoken or written. And that's where their power comes. The physical manifestation of something intangible. Those words, once morphed into the physical, are almost impossible to erase. 

    Words grab people––they act as hooks (much like an opening chapter should!). They can mesmerize, console and comfort, tear down. Words can manipulate. 

     Words become alive. They take on a type of flesh and blood all their own. Think back on how words have survived thousands of years in the forms of spoken, sung, and written mediums. I'm sure the authors never dreamed their words would survive that long. Words can become immortal––living beyond our ephemeral reach. 

    Words become memories. Ones either pleasant or painful to remember. It is said for every negative stimulus you are exposed to (whether of your own doing or someone else's), you need five positive ones to reach a state of equilibrium. I marvel at how instantly you can recall a flood of memories just from one simple trigger word. 

     As a writer, I have the opportunity to create something that lives. Something hopefully reaching beyond my mortal span. I want my words to be remembered as compelling, touching, poignant, inciting change. Conversation starting. Meaningful. Never spiteful, rude, gibbering, or trashy. 

     I'm sure you can remember a time when you've been on the giving and receiving end of all of these. I can. Let the permanency of our words motivate us to watch what we say and how we say it. And, for us writers, that what we record will define our legacy for the better. 

"My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel––it is, before all, to make you see." ––Joseph Conrad

Friday, June 7, 2013

Despise Not Small Beginnings

(c) 2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) and the Chanticleer Garden

   Have you ever found yourself faced with a big task and wondering how you'll ever reach the end? And finally when you have come to the end, you find yourself at an equally difficult place––the start of something new? You have conquered one big mountain only to find yourself at the base of another. The wonderful words of wisdom “despise not small beginnings” always bring me comfort when I'm facing seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Great works usually start small. How else to begin something but to start at the beginning? 

    I'm reminded that every spring, nature goes through this transformation. Emerging from winter, every tree and plant seems dead but upon closer inspection, they're just resting. Getting ready for the great work to begin. They start lifeless––naked––and by the time summer arrives, they are clothed in blossoms of full maturity. One of my favorite examples is how a brittle, black, pinpoint of a seed so easily crushed can grow and unfold into a blazing, red poppy, full of vigor and expectancy.

    Or what about the sunrise? The day starts out dark, shrouded in blackness, then instead of bursting forth into full radiance, the dawn slowly unfolds––a first light, rose-pink in appearance. Faint. Perhaps even appearing fragile. But everyday that emerges is new, strong, and so full of promise.

(c) Lisa Tancsics
    I think we need to live with the same expectancy and promise. We need to embrace our small beginnings, our moments of obscurity, and never forget where we have started. For if we don't remember where and why we started, will we ever be able to grow? To track our journey? To see if we have indeed arrived at a good, satisfactory end?

    For me, my current “small beginning” is embarking on the journey of publishing my first novel. It has been a meaningful, difficult––and at times, crazy––endeavor, but what I have learned is priceless to me. And humbling...oh, so very humbling! But I cherish it and will do my best to never forget this venture.

    Everyone has to start somewhere with something. Whether it's an author releasing their debut novel, a student heading off to college, parents having their first child, or a doctor performing their first operation, we have all experienced a small beginning.

   What are yours? What fond memories do you hold dear about that adventure? What advice can you give? Where have you grown since then? And can you see how that small beginning perhaps prepared you for something bigger?