Updated: May 2
As writers, our words carry a great deal of power.
Power to transport our readers to other places. Make them fall in love with our characters. And create worlds in which they would want to live.
As writers, we are afforded a lot of leeway as to how we use our words. Our characters can speak their minds, say hateful things, do hateful things, and for the most part, we, as the writer or creator, aren't penalized for it.
However, in real life, we have to watch our words. Watch not only what we say, but how we say it.
Back in the day, a handshake and your word meant a done business deal. No need for a contract. If you gave your word to someone, they expected you to keep it.
A kind word can keep someone from taking their life, just as much as a harsh one can make them feel insignificant and lost.
I know I have hurt others with my words. Sometimes intentional. Sometimes not. I have been hurt myself and lashed out with hateful daggers on the tip of my tongue. Intended to leave wounds in the flesh of others.
Most of the time, I don’t have the intent to hurt. I just don’t think about what power my snarky comment may have. Things I often think are funny aren’t. I'm well aware of that.
I’m also aware that some are extremely sensitive. More so than they should be. Not everything someone says is meant as a jab or meant as a direct comment toward them. I have been very sensitive myself. Taking something someone meant in jest to heart.
Does that mean we never forgive, or should we let it slide and move on? Should we let our hearts harden slowly, turning black because our feelings were hurt? I speak from my own experiences when I say that is exactly what I have done before. To this day, I don’t really speak with someone in my family because of something they said to me. It was a horrible comment, and it sliced my heart open.
Did that person mean to have that impact? Probably not. But she said it when I was really depressed. A side consequence of that exchange, to this day, I am reluctant to share my feelings with someone because I'm afraid I will be ripped to shreds.
I have also been the one wielding my tongue as a barbed spear. I made a comment to a neighbor who has yet to speak to me in 4 years.
Words are powerful. They can hurt and they can heal. They can tear a person down or build someone up.
As powerful as the spoken word is, the unspoken word is just as strong. Sometimes knowing when to speak and when not to is a craft that I have yet to hone. Not for my lack of trying. But more for my ignorance and selfishness.
Sometimes it is easier to not say anything at all and avoid what might happen if you say the wrong thing; or the right.
I’ve been wondering if I said more to my mother, would she have changed her mind about taking her life.
My best friend of 10 years quit speaking to me after my mother’s death. I’ve been wondering if there is anything she could say now to heal the hurt not having her in my life these last few years has caused.
As I go into this new year, I want to write more words. Creating new stories and characters. Taking my readers to new places. But more than that, I want to use my words wisely. Sometimes I’m a very good steward of my words, sometimes I am not. I’m still learning how to use my them. I’m not sure I will ever fully grasp the power they have.
Who knew that each of us had such a tremendous super power? How will you use yours?
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. And I hope the new year brings you much joy and happiness.