I believe that I am now on #35 of my Celebrating 45 list. Peppered throughout the list you will see my love of reading/writing/and language of all sorts.
Today, I want to celebrate the importance of words in my life. It has taken me a long time to admit this. I still blush or stumble when I try to claim it in person, but here goes . . .
I am a writer!!!
My love of words goes beyond written language. I love hearing and seeing language used with power and flexibility. I am addicted to Podcasts and TED talks, where master’s of the arts of writing and speaking fascinate their audiences with perfect phrasing, eloquent language, and an ability to manipulate language for sound and meaning A memorable phrase that lives beyond the moment of reading or hearing it, gives me chills. I thrill in those rare and wonderful moments when my own words–through some source outside myself–come together to create that indescribable perfection of consonants, vowels, and phrasing.
I just finished reading Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde (excellent book with wonderful characters and plot that makes you want to know more). Two sentences of hers made me yell (in my mind) “That’s it!!!”:
“Hard work can sometimes substitute for natural ability, but natural ability almost never makes up for not being willing to do the work.” (pg. 149)
“Sorry doesn’t mean shit. Not if you don’t plan to stop doing the thing you’re so sorry about. There has to be more to amends than just a word.” (pg. 406)
However, this post isn’t about celebrating other people’s words, as fabulous as they may be.
This is about celebrating words in my own life.
In 1978, when I was 10 years old, I sat mesmerized and terrified by the television mini-series The Holocaust.
This was in the midst of my own Hebrew School years, and the crucial years leading up to my Bat Mitzvah. Although I have since lost some of the religious beliefs, being a Jew was (and to some extent still is) an important aspect of my life at that time.
At a Hebrew School meeting after the series aired, the Rabbi met with all the classes to discuss what we had seen. I raised my hand and said, “It made me scared to be a Jew, but prouder than ever to be a Jew.”
On Saturday morning (I’m told–I would have been at the children’s service if I was there) the Rabbi used my words as part of his reflection during the service. This was the moment that I became aware that the right choice of words–even when you don’t know that they are the right words–can be magical, powerful and reach beyond the pages or the circumstances where they’ve been created.
My journey through writing started in school, with my first poems written in 1st grade along with a puppet play. My first book was a collection of poems and short stories that I hand-lettered and illustrated as a project in sixth grade, for another fabulous teacher who influenced my life named Mrs. Jorgensen. My first published work was a poem written bout a piece of art in a museum, that then got placed into some kind of literary magazine someone put out.
I have numerous starts and starts of stories, novels, poems etc. scattered throughout journals and gathered in three-ring binders. Throughout my life I’ve found solace and friendship in words, probably more than anyone even knew. Because of this it makes sense to me that when life began to fall apart around me (for reasons I won’t go into here) I turned to words–writing my first real book, joining a book club, and creating a small writing group. The two women from that writing group convinced me to take the step into a then unknown world, the one of blogging. Over 756 posts (spread across several blogs) and thousands if not millions of words later, my life is filled with words. Some of them sing with the beauty I yearn for, but most of them are mundane and some are even cliché. However, words fill my life and sustain me, so a celebration of my life would not be complete without celebrating the words that fill it.
What are some of your favorite words? What quotes live on in your memory?