"We suspected it all along" article last Monday, and my writing sisters have kept the pace. Latayne's revelation that novels can actually leave a physical shadow in the brain that stays with the reader for days was an amazing bit of information. As her title suggested, we suspected it all along. And we've always known that about words anyway.
I read another tremendous post about words soon after reading Latayne's post. I quote from Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience blog post titled: Dear Kids: What you need to know about Duck Dynasty, Justine Sacco and Christmas. I highly recommend you read the entire post. But this is what leapt out at me:
"Words leave your mouth, your keyboard, but words don't ever expire quietly in a void --- they always explode in hearts."
That is absolute truth. Words are not innocuous. Ever. They impact on some level, even if it's just to inform. If you doubt that, consider this: "In the beginning was the Word." That's how the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose to define Christ in the opening words of his gospel. There are so many nouns he could have used instead: In the beginning was the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Light of the World, the Morning Star, the Alpha and Omega. And on and on. But in the beginning was the Word --- which spoke into existence all that is --- and that Word has resonated throughout the universe ever since.
Words matter. The ones we speak and the ones we write. If words are our calling, we have an obligation to use them wisely. Ecclesiastes 12:11 says, "The words of the wise prod us to live well.
They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together." On Wednesday, Debbie talked about her need to "stick with books that include some measure of hope." I'm so with Debbie on that. A novel can take me to the inferno, but if it gives me reason to hope I'll stay with it to the very end. That's what I want to accomplish with my writing. To bring hope to my readers, to leave a shadow on their brains that will point them in the right direction if the need arises. I know I fall short, but it's what I strive for.
But I not only want to write things that make a difference, I want to speak them. I've made one New Year's resolution that I've kept as far as I recall. It was 18 years ago, and the resolution was to begin wearing lipstick. You heard me right. I didn't mind the look of lipstick, but I didn't like the feel of it on my lips. My husband, on the other hand, liked me in lipstick. So I resolved to begin wearing it, and I have ever since. Not all day, every day, but certainly when I go outside my front door.
This year I made another New Year's resolution, one a bit more important than lipstick, and that's to be more positive in my attitude. The past few years have been difficult, and they've worn on me. Often, it's been reflected in my words. So I resolved on New Year's morning to keep my language positive, and to better practice the faith I've worked so hard to develop over the years. If my words are going to explode in someone's heart, I want them to bring life, not death; to encourage, not defeat.
Only a handful of novels I've read in my life have really impacted me, have left an enduring shadow. The first was To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read in high school way back when. Sadly, most novels I've read are forgettable. They entertain for the moment, but that's it. What creates a really distinctive novel for you? Can you share a title?