Winning or Wounding and “Smithing” Well

Geyser sprayNiagara falls.  Earthquakes.  Stars. Old Faithful.  Rainbows.  A pen.

Power.

Writer, maybe you’ve never really thought about it before, but do you realize the power you have at your fingertips?  The impact your words can have?  There may be no other profession that can persuade, convince, motivate or edify like writing.  Writers have the ability to create, enhance, improve, challenge, enlighten, embrace, entertain, or educate like few others.   We can also destroy, defeat, discourage, dampen, denigrate, divide and dispirit.

If you’re a word smith, smith well. And carefully, because the “power of the pen” is immense.

Oops

Example:  Awhile back I received a Dear John letter from a friend.  Let’s call her Sally.

Okay, it wasn’t really a “letter.”  It was more like a one-way ticket for an under-the-bus reservation.  Seems I inadvertently “hurt her deeply” by not immediately returning an “I’m dying, please call me” message she left on my machine.  While we were on vacation.  Out of town.  Tent-camping for a week in Incommunicado Land.

Her first message came in an hour after our departure for terra incognita.  The second arrived the next day, and with increased voltage: “I can’t believe you haven’t called me back yet.  I told you I was dying.”  (This isn’t the first “I’m dying” call I’ve received from Sally.)  I called her back when we got home.  No answer.  Left a message explaining we’d been out of town for a week, hoped she was feeling better, please give me a call and let me know how you are.

No response.

Several months later I received a four-sentence note from Sally.  “Please do not contact me again” she wrote, “I’m not interested in a one-way relationship.”

At Your Fingertips

Now, I could go several different directions here.  But to stay on target, here’s the point: If you’re a writer, you have enormous power at your fingertips. You can wound or win with your words. You can splash canvasses with color, wonder and intrigue.  Introduce readers to far-off lands, distant destinations, or, like Tolkien, create entire worlds and histories in your head and transfer them to the page.  You can inspire,  amuse and make merry.  You can also delve into the depths of despair, cut others off at the knees.  Alienate, isolate, separate and depress.

A good example of the latter: 1984 by George Orwell and Night, by Elie Wiesel.  If you’re really interested, here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Depressing Books.  (I do not agree with this list entirely, but they got 1984 right.)

I scoured the internet in search of a reasonable, sane listing of the Top 10 Most Inspiring or Uplifting Books ever written.  By “inspiring” I mean uplifting, engaging, poignant, powerful or laugh-out-loud.  A beautifully crafted, thoughtfully written work that ignites an “Aha!” moment(s), drawing readers into something bigger than themselves.

‘Most Inspirational?’

I must’ve read through like nine zillion lists, usually punctuated with, “You have got to be kidding!”  So, after I picked myself up off the floor, I decided to create my own.  Here in no particular order are my purely subjective choices for Most Inspirational:

The Bible

The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

The Notebook, Three Weeks With My Brother – Nicholas Sparks

The Christmas Box, Road to Grace series – Richard Paul Evans

The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief – O. Henry

The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom

These Strange Ashes – Elisabeth Elliot

The Applause of Heaven, When God Whispers Your Name – Max Lucado

A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Cold Tangerines – Shauna Niequist

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

Secrets of the Vine, The Prayer of Jabez – Bruce Wilkinson

The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

The Wizard of Oz – Frank Baum

For Those Who Hurt – Charles Swindoll

Woods Runner, Winter Dance – Gary Paulsen

The Mitford Series – Jan Karon

Inkheart – Cornelia Funke

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen

Walking With God, Waking the Dead – John Eldredge

Sunrise to Paradise – Ruth Kirk

That’s the short, short list of champion wordsmiths who’ve “smithed” well.  If you want the full list, check out my Book Shelf.

Kristine Lowder - close upWhat’s on your list?  Cite an example of someone who “smiths” well.

Oh yeah – grab a  FREE copy of  my ebook, Skipping the Tiramisu: Becoming the Writer You Were Born to Be, when you subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter!

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