I think of this often; I wonder if most writer's do--or if it is a cause and effect thing? Is there a catalyst that brings this concept to mind: we write the words, we release the words for public viewing...then we reap what the words have sown.
When I was younger, I gave little thought to the impact of my words, let alone those of anyone else. I believed that my words had impact only if I intended it to be so. Naive...ignorant...a little of both, or maybe even a lot of both.
Age has brought many things with it; an inescapable caution about my words is one of them.
Sometimes, when I am ready to click "publish" right here on this blog, I waver. Should I? Should I not?
There is no bringing them back once they are cast to the virtual universe. And...I don't want to go the fight with people who disagree with me-- and have limited word skills when it comes to "voicing" their disagreement. Perhaps, once so naive and ignorant, I am just now older and tired? :-) <----- That smile was not a typo.
But...that is a small risk in compare to having written words that offend people. The weight of words... And offense is small in compare to lowering someone's self-esteem, or to have them view themselves in a bad light--over something a writer has released to the public.
We can't always avoid our words being harsh--sometimes harsh is needed, but not often. We can't help but occasionally offend people, or caus them to have a bad day. It happens. Sometimes the words are a needed wake-up call. But, it is a pretty good practice--to weigh and measure the words we choose to wake up people. You do get better mileage out of other ways, other words.
I have a hard copy of the manuscript of the very first book I ever wrote. It is on a shelf, wrapped up in brown paper, unopened since the day I sent off its twin via media-mail to a publisher. I also saved the rejection letter that soon enough followed the nearly ceremonious mailing--well, it felt sort of ceremonious to me.
That was five years ago. I think I might never open it...so ashamed I am of the writing quality. I hope that editor didn't write my name somewhere, or enter it into a file that reads "Reject any ms. sent from Teresa Cypher." The weight of words...
Those words were awfully heavy. I made so many rookie mistakes. By the time I mailed it off, I had been polishing it for two years. I was pretty sure that it was a showpiece. Little did I know...
I was just standing at the threshold of enlightenment...the weight of words.
Since then, I have spent five years learning the craft of writing, and have learned so much I could write a book about it *attempt at humor*. Of all the things I treasure from my years of learning, practicing, reading, writing--and the opportunity given to me by that wake-up call a wise editor sent to me under the guise of a rejection letter, is this: I think I understand the weight of words.
Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, essay, poetry, emails, facebook posts, tweets, and the list goes on and on and on...all words. And the words all have weight.
Where are you on this path to literary enlightenment--do you have a good grip on the weight of your words?