War of the Words

Book Flying Words .jpg

I have always loved sci-fi books and movies. I am especially intrigued by the otherworldly concepts, futuristic technology, travel through space and time, and limitless supernatural powers.   Of all those fantastical methods for developing the sci-fi storyline, I find my deepest connection to this genre through the way in which novelists and scriptwriters use words to develop multiple plot lines. These plot lines often critique our culture, while also creating alternative worlds that challenge negative perceptions. Yes words, from that perspective, are like a Grande Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino is to a Starbucks junkie. No shade—I just need you to know how majestic words are to me. I would almost argue that the use of words in a great speech, inspiring autobiography, or attention grabbing article are like a good sci-fi plot that takes you beyond your imagination to other transcendental lands and leaves you wondering if a place like that ever existed. 

Lovers of sci-fi might contend that there must be science behind authentic sci-fi. Or, maybe that I need to expand my thought to consider the use of words through a more traditional lens. But, nope . . . not me. For me, there is a science behind the construction and development of dynamic writing that is undeniable. If words can persuade a person to believe in a political candidate to the point of changing party lines, provoke the most frugal to make a zealous purchase, or cause a rational person to make an irrational decision, than words . . . yes, words paired with great syntax must be magical and full of wonder.

Yet, for years now, I have felt like people treat words like Pandora’s Box . . . afraid to tackle sentences and meanings of words as if they will unlock the most painful trouble that life has to offer. Are we really at war with words like the humans were with the extraterrestrials in H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898)? Not a physical war but a love-hate relationship that causes people to feel terribly awkward and vulnerable at the very thought of writing. Too often, I have heard my students, co-workers, and even family members say, “I can’t write,” “I don’t know what to say,” or “I’m not a writer.”  If that’s you, the good news is I am here to allay all your concerns. The wonder of words is not necessarily in the most grammatically correct sentence, but rather, in the endless possibilities that words have to offer. So, I challenge all those “non-writers” to get out of their own way and embrace the freedom of expression that cyborg and shapeshifter enthusiasts have enjoyed for years, with no limitations.  Then, you will become a writer who is free to imagine anything about the world, while just simply writing without fear of an English teacher’s red pen.

I don’t know where or how you will find your ability to write without fear. I found my authentic freedom as a writer in the wee hours of the morning embedded within the pages of my journals. There, I managed to somehow unwrap my voice as a writer when it was really time. By really time, I mean . . . when it's time to write that research paper, deliver a speech, or put words on paper at work. Throughout the pages of my journals, I cultivated the wordsmith in me. There, I found my freedom and the wonder of words that some rage war with every day. I am a writer, but so are you, if you stop fighting it. #WarOfTheWords #JustWrite #EditLater #TheWarOfTheWorlds