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.
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.
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.
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 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.