A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was asked to name her most valuable possession.
What she named was a piece of paper. Nothing on the paper represents any monetary value, yet the page still manages to contain both everything my friend holds dear and the essence of what prompted you to read this.
The item my friend treasures most is a love letter, and that fact has reminded me again about the power of words.
The first time this hit me was during the reading of a captivating, blow-by-blow concerning the makings of the signature Rueben-like sandwich of a northeastern town.
I could literally smell the fresh bread and taste the tang of special sauce. By the end of the article I was ready to grab my keys and take off on an all-night road trip. And I don’t even eat beef.
As writers, we’re aware of the power of the word. We have been seduced by the suggestion that we, too, may wield words with the command to summon a vegetarian to sample a Rueben.
In my role as coordinator for a university writers’ conference, I had to write the annual "message from the coordinator" last week, a sort of "state of the writing community" address that gets printed in the booklet of winning contest entries the conference produces each year. I began this year’s thoughts with the above sentences.
Mere hours after I turned in the article, I picked up the paper and saw the account of how our latest American hero, Ashley Smith, placated a killer in part through readings from a well-known inspirational book. (Yes, under deadline and out of contact with the real-time world, I am the lone American who actually found this to be news when I read about the incident in print media.)
Now, Ashley herself will doubtless be called upon to pen her own account of the events that captured the attention of a nation. Once unleashed, her words, too, will become part of an arsenal effecting change in innumerable avenues through human souls.
As writers, we must understand the value of the commodity we barter. We must view our work as important--no matter how frustrating, or painful, or thankless the job may seem. No matter what hang-ups we need to let go. (My dislike for the word blog was almost a deal-killer for me writing in this forum. For me, the word conjures images of early American maladies. Cholera. Whooping cough. Blog.)
Words can be as sharp as daggers, as potent as tonic, and as scorching as flame. There are times to employ them in each application. When you write, you hold the power to choose. Brandish as needed.