Day 4 Blog Challenge Question:
What person in your life helped
you understand the importance
of choosing words carefully?
What would you say to them if
you met them today?
Is there just one person who helps us understand the importance of words? I can think of so many.
My parents... who taught me from the beginning, with words of kindness for others.
Ministers who have opened my eyes to the God-given power of our spoken words to create light and life – as in Mark 11:23 – “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
And teachers, who go beyond the concepts of grammar and punctuation and guide us into painting portraits with our words…
But to answer this “words matter” question…Here’s a re-post of a piece I wrote of just one such woman – my favorite of all English teachers – who spoke confidence into my dreams, writer to potential writer:
I felt my face flush under her gaze, the paper trembling in my hands. Red ink slashed through nearly every word I’d grueled over in this essay. Her bold handwriting loudly proclaimed my inability across the margins: Too wordy. Get rid of this. And at the top of the page, like a crimson arrow, Rewrite!
“I – I thought this was what you wanted,” I stammered. Like all my high school classmates, I adored her. If she thought I was a terrible writer, then it must be so.
“Pam,” she said, “Do you think this is A work?”
“Well, I didn’t think it was this – bad,” I mumbled, embarrassed. I’d so hoped she’d…what? Think I was the next Elizabeth Barrett Browning? I wanted to run from the classroom and never come back. Jump in a helium balloon and fly away with my crushed dream.
She smiled. “It’s not bad at all. Actually, it’s one of the best in the class.”
I looked up, confused.
“You have a gift,” she explained. “I could give you an A as it is, but that wouldn’t help you grow as a writer. Don’t think about grades. Think about your words, how you can use them to paint pictures for your reader.”
Painting in the details… I loved to create a story with my oils and watercolors. Yes, words are like that, I thought.
She leaned over my shoulder, pointed to the page. “See, here you chose a blah word that doesn’t make your reader see it. But a word like – this – adds color and makes it come alive!” The spark in her eyes, warmth in her voice, lit a new fire in my own.
Her living words set sail to my dream: You have a gift. You ARE a writer. I want to help you grow.
Sharon Daley Barovsky, You echo courage in my heart still. And I think… Who can I inspire with my words today?
© Pam Depoyan