Words are powerful

Words have enormous power and, by extension, writers also have great power. Every word we place on paper or in the ether using technology has the capacity to change hearts and to increasing understanding at a cerebral level.

An artist’s words have the power to move hearts, to console the broken and inspire them to mend and to broaden a reader’s experience of the world.

This is a writer’s power. We can entertain and share an ideal or an idea we believe is important…a feeling, perhaps, or an insight we have just gained. Often those moments feel as if no-one else could ever know the significance of that insight. Yet the second we put those insights down in words they become someone else’s, especially once they are public.

That is why, as writers, we carry great responsibilities. The way we use words has the power to hurt, to heal, to wound, to forgive and to give what is perhaps the greatest gift of all …. hope.

One of the great paradoxes of this is that when we record something or write a story, we know that as it leaves our care it becomes someone else’s and they might never take from it the meaning we thought we were sharing. In fact, they might take from it an entirely different message, and when they relay that meaning back, you might say to yourself… “no, that is not what I intended at all, not at all.”

But, if it has given them something of value and their journey through this life is lighter because of what we have said, then it does not matter that they interpreted our words differently. The fact that they took the time to read it and to think about what we had written is honour enough.

I feel deeply humbled when someone says to me that he or she loved something I wrote and that it had helped them understand an issue they grappled with. This inspires me to keep writing.

We all need to keep telling our stories so that greater understanding and compassion may result.

Stories lay beneath the skin of our nationhood. If we peel back the first layer of that skin, the one that tourists see, the showcasing skin, we will find pillars of truth that tell the true story of our country. What we see may, no probably will, trouble us. Often, acknowledging that deeper understanding and insight demands courage, as those truths take courage to face. Seeing the alternative truth to the one we accept generally places our hearts in a quandary. We may have to grapple at length with what we want to believe and what we see.

Those kinds of truth are indeed prickly to hold. However, when we work with these prickly truths they lose their power to immobilise as we discover there is nothing to fear. What we, in fact, discover is that the new insights give us the power to build a stronger country. Truth is often like that. We see it in one form and then discover that another truth lies beneath it.

As a teller of stories, I want to entertain, but I also want to give readers an experience that sets them thinking about the world around them. Not because I think I am any great source of wisdom but because, as a writer, I think my role is to shed a bit of light on existing truths and illuminate them further.

That takes courage and I bow in deference to all those who have done this in the past, present and the future. They are truly courageous who dare to share their truths.