The Power of a Word

Friday, March 13, 2020
What can a gesture do? What impact do words have on us? What can one question do?

I admit it. I'm a huge fan of the televison show The Voice. I love hearing about a singer's journey, the obstacles they've overcome, the rejection. Singing is the dream that's kept them alive... and when they get up on the stage, singing to the backs of the four judges, putting all their hope in one basket, they're putting that dream on the line.

When one of the judges turns their chair, you can sometimes see the singer's reaction immediately. Some others hold it in until the song is over, and then they almost collapse.

image by Pixabay

There have been a number of times when gestures have impacted me as a writer. Also, over the years there have been more than a few times when some words kept me stumbling forward as a writer. Words, and small gestures, can be extremely powerful.

To say "thank you" to a bunch of folks, and to remind myself of how lucky I am, I'm going to share some gestures and some words of encouragement that I've been graced with.
  • A couple of years ago, J. Glenn suggested I join a writing accountability group. Even though I've been AWOL from my group for way too long, the Butt-Kickers keep me in line as best they can. (I promise I will re-emerge at some point. Things are too dark right now.)  Those few words of advice from Joanne made all the difference.
  • More than a year ago, I finished a manuscript. It was a piece that I'd been immersed in for several years. A tattered shoestring tied my heart to the story. 
          A writing critique friend offered to read it. Overjoyed, I ran to a nearby college that offers dirt-
          cheap printing (a penny a page) in their library, and made that copier whir and whir and whir.

          I gave her the stack of papers held together by a binder clip... and I held my breath. What if  
          she told me, "It sucks"? Worse: what if she hated it, but was too kind to say it was sucky?

          The next day, I heard from her. The. Next. Day. She had stayed up, could not put it down. 
          This writing colleague has a discerning eye. She's a well-known writer in St. Louis. And she 
          liked it. She really, really liked it. (Thanks, Linda.)
  • Many, many years ago, a poet had a contest (I think that's how it happened). The prize: she'd write a poem about whatever topic we gave her. I won, and she wrote a spectacular poem about inspiration and young people. That poem is hung with pride in my office/spare bedroom... and it still inspires me. Shay, you're a wonder with words.
  • I've gotten resource ideas from Cathy Hall and Lisa Ricard Claro.  They took the time to send me a name or a link that I could use as I submit and submit and submit. The Butt-Kickers have helped (and tried to help) countless times and in countless ways. I've had the privilege of working with an editor (Margo Dill) who went above and beyond with her deft hand and eye. I'm incredibly grateful for everyone who's part of my writing life. 
I guess the point of this rambling is this: Reach out to your writing colleagues. Do something for writers who aren't necessarily close friends. Give them some encouragement. Offer to be a beta reader. If you hear of an editor or publisher that might be interested in someone's work, get in touch with that someone and let them know.

We all need some help now and then...



Nicole Pyles said...

So true! I am finding that getting support from someone, whether it's a suggestion about where to submit or an offer to read or a comment of encouraging...means so much to me.

Margo Dill said...

I agree also so much. I recently agreed to beta read my friend's book, and he is so grateful. But do you want to know the really cool thing and why I am saying this? The book is so good and funny and unique and interesting I feel like it is a privilige that I get to read it for free! So you just really never know how things are going to turn out when you offer to help someone. You may get more benefit than you realize. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

The writing community is such a great place to find support. Thank you for helping us remember this and for being part of it!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, we're a generous group, including you, Sioux!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--I feel the same way.

Margo---Yes! I usually thank writing friends for sharing their work (during a critique session) for that very reason... because it's a pleasure to read their work.

Sue--I am so grateful for the Butt-Kickers... even though it may not seem like it right now.

Cathy--Thanks. I think we're generous because we recognize what a difficult process writing is.

Linda O'Connell said...

I think writing is about sharing tips, offering talents, and generously supporting fellow writers. We are cheerleaders for one another. You are quite talented.

Pat Wahler said...

To have a writing community is a wonderful thing. Writers live in a world of rejection (or being ignored-equally painful), so it helps when there are supportive friends who understand.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--We have to be cheerleaders for each other. Otherwise, the rejection would decimate us.

Pat--You are so right. Like Linda, you are a wonderful writing friend.

Fireblossom said...

Figures that this Shay person would give it up in a contest. What a weirdo she must be! ;-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Shay--Weirdly talented, yes... ;)

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