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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

COLUMNIST: Speaking of Words

Speaking of Words—Part 2

Our society is currently enforcing laws and rules against the use of deadly bombs and warfare. Yet, there exists among us a device that can be freely accessed and used by us all on a free-will basis that our government has no real reign over. Words can be a deadly tool or bomb that can shake lives & countries, or they can be a valuable vehicle that bring insight and improve lives. A writer makes the choice of which side of the fence he or she takes with each stroke of the pen and work presented to the audience. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we look to the positive play of words and wisdom that implores us to admire some women writers of yesteryear and of today that bring music to our souls and exciting, electrifying mental chords through the power of the pen and its words.

Take Maya Angelou, for instance. She uses words very elegantly whether in poetry or in story form. We all still revel in the delights of her heart-winning poem entitled “Phenomenal Woman.” A quote from her resonates power in its words: “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

Ms. Alice Walker had this to say: “No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.”

And the wisdom and words of Ms. Emily Dickinson still speak to hearts and minds today: “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else …”

Remember the famous poetic words of Julia Ward Howe in her “Battle Hymn of the Republic”? “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on …” Her words go on and on, words that made not only a difference in Ms. Howe’s life, but the country’s as a whole.
Though not a writer per se, isn’t it delightful when we hear the inspiring words of our First Lady Michelle Obama? Take these powerful words for instance: “We have this window of opportunity; we have a chance to make something real happen. Something possible happen, to live beyond our fear—think about that, and help us. Help lift us up, help us fight this fight to change,—transform—this country in a fundamental way. This chance won’t come around again.”

Did not these women think about which words to use before creating these statements and works? Of course they did. We must too as writers.

It is my opinion that writing and words are a freedom, but the use of them is a responsibility and a privilege to capture an audience. What words are you wielding to your readers? Are you growing them or wasting their time? What message or difference do you want to be your writing legacy that will go down in history for you?
In the book of Genesis when God said, “Let there be light,” in my opinion, it appears that these were the first words of power and direction. Since then, man has set rules and laws using the drum of words and wielding their power and setting direction in many diverse tones for thousands and thousands of years.

While things have changed drastically in the form and usage of language, its dress still wears the same seams of being the good or bad messenger by the hand of its bearer. Of course, there comes a time in every writer’s life when he or she is not writing for pleasure or entertainment but for serious matters. It is still within the dagger of the words that the thoughts, ideas, and opinions either get lost, perceived beyond what was intended, or truly understood.

I believe that writers who have succeeded in being known for their craft and use of exceptional words have a few things in common:

1. They chose the appropriate words to get their point across
2. They wrote using clear sentences
3. They were conscious of making their paragraphs effective
4. They were aware of the basics of grammar, punctuation, and their mechanics
5. They wrote often and continued to hone their craft
6. Dictionaries and writing aids like a thesaurus was used to keep their writing fresh
7. Editing and reediting was a rule and not a decision—this aided against the event of using common, misspelled words and common, confused words.
8. Their work focused on a particular subject
9. Their writing tone was clear and so was the purpose
10. They knew who their audience was and wrote accordingly

These observations can be used in any writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. When sitting down to write you must have a purpose and focus in mind. These two are relative to the outcome of your words and their delivery. Before creating your next essay, novel, of poem, try some of the following and see if it makes a difference in your final delivery.

1. Understand that writing and using the correct words to deliver your thoughts is a process
2. Do some brainstorming about what it is you want to write about
3. Generate some ideas by doing some research about what you plan to write about
4. Start writing about the ideas that come to mind
5. Walk away from your first draft, and then come back with fresh eyes
6. Rewrite your thoughts, getting rid of the clutter—words you don’t need or that don’t drive your point home effectively
7. Like a building, your word structure must be solid
8. Speak to your audience in words that they’ll understand
9. Share your words and works with others and welcome honest feedback
10. Love the power of words and believe in what you want others to gain from you and your thoughts

Remember, history is always in the making for both men and women. The world’s destiny rests on more than just politics, money, and power. Words, too, guide the missile that will explode us to the next level—or continue to propel us downward. Make sure your words are making history that counts.

Pens up! to speaking words the write way.

Rachel Berry has been gifted by our Creator to be many things; on the list of these blessings are daughter, caregiver, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, best friend, aunt, published author & poet, motivational speaker, radio talk-show host, mentor, columnist, and community leader.

Berry is proudly promoting her latest book, A Slip In The Right Direction, part one of a YA series.
To arrange speaking engagements, e-mail her at admin@blackpearlsunited.org.

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