Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The REAL power of words

Some people think the power of words lie in their ability to persuade or sell or incite or provoke or inspire and in order to do those things those words must be BIG and IMPORTANT and come at you like a wall or a wave that cannot be ignored.

Those folks might just be the kind who seldom listen to the words of others because they have given themselves permission to dismiss anything that doesn't carry the proper weight - meaning things they don't agree with or did not think of themselves :). (As an aside - this sentence is a homage to the use of words - I could have said - those people usually value their own words more than anyone else's. But I chose each word carefully.
BREAKDOWN: 1)folks = friendly 2) might just be = benefit of the doubt plus actually puts distance between the folks and the unflattering conclusion, 3)kind = a word that softens perception, 4)seldom = sidestepping absolutes, because they have given themselves = giving is a nice word, permission is what nice folks want and they have done this themselves, it's not me judging. 5) emoticon - it's not a word but it's a tool, as all words are, to convey the sense that the writer means this as a lighthearted observation.

Okay - that's not actually what the topic was but can't resist the chance to share the why and wherefores of using WORDS!
All words have power. There is a reason for the God/Logos connection, for calling the Bible the Word of God. All words have weight. And the more wisely we use them, the more power they have.

The book of James reminds us that an animal as large as a horse is controlled by the mouth and so our lives could be brought into line if we could learn to control OUR mouths.

Nothing has demonstrated this more to me than a phone call last week - after literally years (I often stop and ask myself if EVERYTHING authors do for work could be deemed Literal?) of being beaten down at both writing and work (edits that ranged from nitpicky to abusive, an old agent who had lost interest and kept telling me it wasn't right redo it, publishers who's support wavered, a job where I answer phones, do all the internet, run errands, write radio ad copy, go out on jobs, do warranties and all office work for min wage) after all that I was sad and found writing a chore I didn't think I could do anymore. I actually sent out to my fellow writers - What if I can't do it again? What if I can't write another proposal?
Last week I wrote 3 chapters and LOVED It.

What magical words did my agent say that changed everything? Were they a wall? A wave? BIG? Important? Insightful?

You judge - she said in regards to a book that is getting some good editor attention : "No matter what happens, we know this was the right book. This is a good book."

Everyone wants to hear the equivalent - good job! You did the right thing. No matter what happens, you are of value.

If you haven't done that lately for someone try it today. Tell someone you appreciate them, that they have value. You will see just how much power there can be in a few simple words.