To speak is to create.
I love that. To put something into words is to invent something new, to breathe life into something that has never before existed in quite that way, if at all. My favorite part of language has always been its infinite capacity for generation. There is no need to ever say the same sentence twice, and very rarely do we repeat ourselves verbatim without doing it on purpose. An idea requires words to be fully formed and communicable. Whatever we say is the unique product of our minds, whether it be a carefully planned speech, a presentation at a meeting, or just a conversation with a friend. The things we write, whether they be test essays, grocery lists, or novels, belong to us. No one else could have written them in quite the same way as we have done. But sometimes the things we create would have been better left formless and void.
|Can anybody identify what book I'm reading?|
There is also power in the things we do not say, because those are things we have allowed to remain intangible, unexpressed, unreal. Sometimes that choice is wise; sometimes it's hurtful. Particularly in this age of insta-global communication, I think we often speak when we ought to remain silent, to the detriment of ourselves and others. We create what should not have existed.
The chaplain this morning posed these questions: Do your words bring food to the hungry and healing to the hurting? Do your words support the weak? Do your words create life, or do they cause death?
It got me thinking, not only in terms of my interactions with the people I encounter on a daily basis, but also in terms of what I write and how I portray myself. Do the things I write or say contribute in some way to filling the hungry ache in someone's soul? Some lovely writers contribute portions of their royalties to literally feed the hungry, but I've chosen to interpret the issue more metaphorically since the full amount of my daily royalties could maybe, almost, manage to buy one person a meal at McDonald's. So do I feed the hungry with my words? I certainly hope so. When I write, my goal is not to make a million bucks. It's not to show off. It's not to gain fame and acclaim. It's so that someone will read whatever I write and have a slightly brighter day because of it. People suffer from a variety of hungers, but I hope my words will feed at least one of them. I cannot heal all my readers' hurts, but I want my words to provide at least a little relief from the pain of life and bring back a little of the joy. It doesn't need to be dramatic for me to have succeeded; I'll settle for knowing that what I wrote made someone smile.
Do my words support the weak? Well, they try. It's one of the things I love about the QUILTBAG genre, and why I get annoyed by people who refuse to read anything that's "not my kink"; the things I write and the things I read show support, however implicitly, for a group of people all too often marginalized or discriminated against. (That being said, I recognize the reader's right to spend time and money on whatever s/he enjoys. I just hope that there's still an element of support for all people of the entire spectrum, and not just support for the sexy.)
Do my words create life, or do they cause death? Oh, there are so many ways in which a word can kill. But there are also so many ways that a writer can create life with words. I hope never to say something, verbally or in writing, that makes someone die a little. I undoubtedly fail at this, since I am human. But it is my goal to keep my mouth shut against those snide or thoughtless remarks that wound unnecessarily.
This question has also got me thinking about a story. Might I have read something in which this idea of speaking things into existence/not speaking things to keep them from existing is a key component, or is that just something in the back of my head clamoring to be written? Anybody have any idea?