I don’t remember a time when words failed to fascinate me. My preoccupation with them ripened until, by my sixth year, when I saw a huge movie billboard sign which read CASABLANCA, inquisitiveness shot out the top of my head. Each time my family drove by the theater, I rolled the letters over my tongue every way imaginable…”Cai-zai-blainka…Ceh-zab-laynkuh…and so on. Curiosity gnawed me alive till one day I asked Daddy, “How do you pronounce that?”
“Casablanca,” Daddy carefully enunciated. Then he slowly repeated it. I got it.
You may ask, “why didn’t you ask before?” Because I simply loved to wrestle on my own to solve the mysteries of in-concert letters.
This love affair deepened. In high school, I could yarn my way through essays by simply stringing together words and terms with an energetic rhythm. In college, I thought everybody could write as easily if they would only concentrate. I soon learned different. My obsession was a gift. A talent. Somewhere along the way, I learned something else: along with a gift so easily bestowed comes responsibility. Ouch.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me!”
Lately, that childhood war chant has come back to haunt me. I yelled it and so did you. In the face of cruel verbal assault, we sought to convince ourselves of our invincibility. And for a time, we experienced pseudo impregnability to words. The sentence’s passionate line of reasoning, the words themselves demanded validation to the claim. Then in the aftermath of attack, when the dust settled and reflection set in, the taunting words sank in, then imploded, and the raw wound began to fester and throb. Gape open. Bleed. And we learned one of life’s hardest lessons. Words do hurt.
Words have the power to destroy. We’ve all seen the fallout from a vicious, vindictive tongue or pen. Freedom of speech, you say? All depends on whether you are the judgment’s target. Perception is everything.
Through the years, I’ve become more and more aware of the accountability I assume when I take up my pen, or in modern day lingo, access my word processor. Above all, I respect and cherish the vast smorgasbord of writing styles and views. How exciting, the differences! How sweet and tangy and fizzy they are to my taste. How grateful I am to the creator for such an assortment of expressions. How dull should all be exactly like my own.
We each choose our written-word odyssey. Whether it be poetry, novel, short story, fiction, non-fiction, humor or a little of each, we have an underlying purpose to our writing. Mine is Making a Difference. Call it inspirational if you like. I learned long ago that Inspirational doesn’t necessarily mean religious. Though it can be. Inspirational writing is found in all genres. It is a trait that simply cannot contain itself. It filters through the writer’s pen or keyboard and just plain makes folks feel better after having read the words. It tells of survival, love, family, forgiveness, overcoming all odds, and finding peace in a troubled world. It tells follks that they, too, can be successful. That their quirks can be assets and that their children don’t have to be perfect. It shows unconditional love and acceptance.
Yep, words have the power to help, too. To heal. To inspire and encourage.
Words have the power to Make A Difference.
Emily Sue Harvey is the author of the nationally bestselling novel Unto These Hills. Please visit our website to learn more about this book, as well as Emily Sue’s other novels.